Archive for Marian Gaborik
Hello everybody! (*Dr Nick voice*). It’s a musings day but in Ranger-land there’s not much to be happy about, so let’s just get straight into it. It’s all business folks.
I read yesterday that we give the ‘star’ players a pass on this site? Not so. If you look back through the musings I was pretty critical of Gaborik recently because he has lacked consistently. That criticism still remains, and it goes for all three of them. When you ice a top heavy line-up the one thing that line has to give you is a consistent effort, even when it doesn’t score, and that trio were generally lousy against the Devils.
Whose return to the line up Thursday is more urgently required, Girardi’s or Callahan’s? Given the constant team wide defensive gaffes you could argue Girardi’s, although with the Edmonton Oilers of the 80’s in no danger of losing any scoring records to this Rangers, maybe its Cally. Hopefully both return.
Peak in to the past time: Bobby Sanguinetti: 6 GP, -4, 0 pts, 13:38mins/game. What a shame.
There’ll be no Marc Staal defence’s today (kudos Suit), no long-winded rants, just lots of discussion. I’m feeling concise today so let’s get straight into the Le Musing (ooh, very French…)
Michael Del Zotto: The young and oft maligned blueliner is off to a great start to the year. He’ll never win over all his critics but he’s been the Rangers best blueliner at both ends so far. For a unit that struggled early on, and for a player with much to prove, he’s doing exactly that. Several big plays already this season.
Glen Sather deserves a ton of credit for Del Zotto’s start. Sather challenged Del Zotto to earn a bigger deal. He called him out while at the same time ensuring he publicly acknowledged the young defenseman’s worth to the franchise. He doesn’t speak in public much but Sather hit this one on the head. Sather dealt with the MDZ situation perfectly.
If I were to personally grade Marian Gaborik after 6 games, I’d probably be harsher than most people. I’d give him a B+ where some people would see the totals and assume excellence. I’m one of Gabby’s biggest fans, but he’s at times dominated and at times been found wanting. Of course, the times he’s impressed have outnumbered those he’s struggled in. The only thing missing from Gaborik’s season thus far is that elite level of consistency.
What do Theo Fleury, Eric Lindros, Pavel Bure, Brendan Shanahan and even Jaromir Jagr all have in common? Despite varying levels of success as a Ranger, each of the aforementioned stars were acquired by the Rangers on the downside of their career.
In the case of Fleury and Lindros both players had productive spells as Rangers even if their spells in NY were classed as failures. Of course Jagr had a substantial impact on the Rangers, including perhaps the greatest scoring season in Ranger history. But even the great Jaromir Jagr came to the Rangers labeled as ‘damaged goods’ and past his Pittsburgh prime. Of course, Jagr managed to reclaim some of the shine from his career in New York. All this brings us to the Rangers’ newest superstar, Rick Nash.
As a player that brings the potential for so much more upon (and not before) his arrival in New York, Nash breaks the mold of these past superstar acquisitions. Brad Richards is also in this mold, but not as much so as Nash. This is a refreshing change for the Rangers and perhaps the greatest reason for optimism in the current squad.
The Rangers need to get their powerplay to at least an acceptable standard and soon – otherwise it threatens to derail a hugely promising season. Already in this young but abbreviated season we’ve seen the Rangers powerplay, despite the addition of an elite talent in Rick Nash, fail to come through in crucial occasions in multiple games and we’re only a handful of games in.
Against Philadelphia on Thursday the Rangers had a long 5 on 3 chance that gave them the opportunity to tie the game. Including the final two minutes of the double minor, the Rangers mustered just two shots on goal in four minutes and in the game overall had just three shots on four powerplay chances. That simply isn’t good enough. Against the Penguins the Rangers had a big chance to get back in to the game when back to back minors for the Pens handed a chance to the Rangers but again, the Rangers failed to capitalise. It continues…
In the Bruins game – the season opener – the Rangers went 0-5 on the powerplay and again, had a chance to tie the game early in the third but failed to take advantage of the five on three advantage. As you can see, the Rangers powerplay is literally costing the team points. How much is too much?
John Tortorella has done a wonderful job as Rangers coach and this is by no means demanding any drastic changes. Along with Glen Sather he has overseen the return to respectability of the franchise and indeed has built up what could be a perennial contender. However, the powerplay has been at best ordinary, at worst brutal, for several seasons. At some stage the coaching staff need to answer why this ongoing issue hasn’t been remotely resolved as it’s certainly not for a lack of talent available. Whether Tortorella takes over the duties for righting the PP wrongs, or whether he changes the personnel who run the unit something needs to be done.
We’ve seen clubs such as San Jose directly address special teams’ woes with adding new coaching staff. The Sharks brought in Larry Robinson and Jim Johnson, expanded former Shark Mike Ricci’s role on the penalty kill and have seen immediate improvements on the penalty kill. It could be time for the Rangers to address their ‘situation’ in similar fashion. Why not bring in specialist coaches? Why the reluctance to draw on the obvious offensive skills and knowledge of a guy like Brian Leetch? A Leetch can’t do any worse with this group of players and at the very least would provide fresh impetus and a PR boom.
When a team can put Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, Nash and Ryan Callahan on a first powerplay unit that team certainly has enough firepower to have a threatening special teams unit. That isn’t the case here. Something is wrong and someone needs to address it before it ruins the season. It’s already cost this team points.
It is worth noting that Torts has run successful powerplays throughout his entire career, including in the minors prior to coming to the Rangers. Pierre McGuire (hold your laughs) noted this on the radio. Naturally, Torts doesn’t have control of the powerplay this season, Mike Sullivan does. Not sure if you should read into that, but not sure you shouldn’t either.
This isn’t just about Marian Gaborik breaking out in the biggest of big ways with the hat trick against Boston last night. This is about his overall performance. Throughout the game Gaborik went to the net looking for chances, for scraps, and for rebounds. He wasn’t afraid to control the puck along the boards and he was clearly quick on his skates, as we’ve become accustomed to. It also wasn’t about his finishing ability, which we all know he is at a supremely high level. Well, it was about all of that, but most of all it was about his ability to take a pounding, get back up and be willing to take it again.
Throughout the Rangers 4-3 overtime win over the Bruins, Gaborik got a physical manhandling. This came mostly from his countryman, the towering Zdeno Chara. Anyone that knows anything about hockey knows when Chara hits you, you feel it. Gaborik took what Chara had and still had plenty left in the tank to win the game for the Rangers. He fought through checks all game, including the game winning play.
One of the bigger stories during minicamp has been the position switch made by Marian Gaborik. Gaborik, a left-handed shot, has played the off-wing his entire career, until now. This season, Gaborik will at least start the year on the left side, with Derek Stepan as his center and Ryan Callahan as his right wing (the other top line is Carl Hagelin-Brad Richards-Rick Nash). Many –including myself– assumed it would be Nash playing on the left side, something he’s done in the past. But Gaborik on the left side offers some very important benefits.
Spreading out the defense
Torts decided to resist the urge of putting together a super line of Nash-Richards-Gaborik, which would surely draw the top defensive assignments from both the blue liners and top defensive forwards in league. By keeping one of the wingers off the line, and with another very competent center in Stepan, the Rangers will force teams to spread out their defensive assignments, making them more vulnerable to miscues. This is something we talked a lot about last year with Torts’ line juggling.
The hockey world is back up to full speed, and it’s hard not to be excited. See you soon New York; my annual regular season trip is now in the planning phase. Cannot wait to be back at the Garden, something I’m sure we all are excited for. Musings Time!
Pat Leonard of the NY Daily News reported that the goalie starts for the Rangers will continue like last year’s split which would mean Hank getting ‘only’, (approximately) 36 starts, which is exactly what Suit predicted a couple of weeks ago. That’s bad news for you fantasy hawks that drafted the King in the first round of your drafts but good for Henrik in terms of staying fresh for the playoffs. The Rangers are blessed that they’re able to lean on a back up of Biron’s quality.
I’m going to predict the Rangers regular season: 35 wins.
I’m writing a musings article. That can only mean one thing: The lockout is over. Who else thought the Gary Bettman ‘apology’ fell on deaf ears? Show of hands? Thought so. On to the musings.
TSN had an article earlier this week titled: “Leafs stand to benefit from new CBA”. Of course, this is presumptive from TSN. When you’re a franchise that’s been mismanaged for more than a decade, it’s dangerous to assume anything. More on that later.
Should we expect quick movement on the Del Zotto contract front?
There has a lot of talk about Marian Gaborik and his shoulder, but John Tortorella put all concerns to bed today. Per Steve Zipay, Torts stated that Gaborik is ready to go, and will not miss any of training camp or opening night. Gaborik has been cleared medically for about a month now. This is one area where the lockout benefited the Rangers. A healthy Gaborik gives the Rangers another 40-goal threat in the lineup.
Unfortunately, those who are expecting Michael Sauer back soon are not going to be happy. Word went across Twitter yesterday (sorry, I don’t have an exact link, if someone could provide it would be great) that the young defenseman is not going to be ready for opening night, and likely will not be ready this season. Sauer has been out with post-concussion syndrome for over a year. Sauer suffered the injury following a clean Dion Phaneuf hit, where Sauer’s head hit the boards awkwardly.
When the Rangers hit the ice in the next couple of weeks, a player with plenty of momentum and a huge chance of making the Rangers opening night roster will be J.T. Miller. Physically mature and improving with every game he plays, Miller had an impressive World Junior’s, growing in importance with each game as the American team won gold in impressive fashion. With nine points in seven games and a +5 rating to boot, Miller enjoyed the WJC on an individual level in addition to soaking up team glory.
As previously discussed, players such as Chris Kreider– along with Miller – also represent the future of the Rangers, but a player such as Kreider may not be in form right now, while other younger players such as Christian Thomas or Ryan Bourque simply aren’t ready. However with every additional game throughout the WJC, Miller has started to look pro ready.