Clearly the game against the miserable Edmonton Oilers where Marian Gaborik ran riot was a misleading performance. Considering the opponent, Chris Higgins may have had 3+1 on the night. What is clear is that despite indicating he is healthy the critical offensive component of the Rangers offensive (and key to any prolonged success this season) is not firing on all cylinders. This leads to the question of is there anything wrong?
Since the Edmonton explosion Gaborik has just 1 goal in 6 games and just 19 shots in those same games, 6 of which came in the Boston game where he scored. A man known for shooting and shooting a lot isn’t doing so. Gaborik is on course for approximately 200 shots for the season which would be over 70 less than last year (not factoring in 6 more games missed than last year assuming he doesn’t miss another this time around) and when you watch him on the ice this season he doesn’t appear to be a threat to score on every shift, like he was so often last year. Yes, Gaborik is getting the odd assist right now, primarily because he garners so much attention but this team needs their elite winger to be a scorer, their go-to scorer and right now the other lines may be feeling too much pressure or expectancy because the apparent top line isn’t getting it done. When Gaborik struggles it has a rippling effect on the line-up. Frolov is better when Gaborik is on his game, and when their line is clicking it gives the rest of the line up better match ups against the opponent and increased confidence seeing their offensive leader get it done. Right now and Gaborik’s middling performance may begin to have the opposite effect.
The Rangers are in the midst of another playoff battle in what is essentially a transition year and if they can even crack the top 6 while integrating the youth it will be a successful season but this can’t happen without Gabby getting going. It’s telling that coach Tortorella called his winger out through the media and it is in fact a compliment to the rest of the roster that Colorado and Tampa results aside, this team is competitive and difficult to play despite getting so-so years from their two marquee players when you include Henrik Lundqvist. If Lundqvist and Gaborik can find their games sooner rather than later the season is full of promise for the Blueshirts. Here’s hoping they do.