Hockey This Week

Paging Mr. Gaborik! | Rangers Pulse. By James Wrabel, Jr.

Hockey This Week

Hockey This Week

Hockey This Week

Why Marian Gaborik Has to Play Better for the Rangers to Advance.

Paging Mr. Gaborik…a Mr. Marian Gaborik, you are needed for the New York Rangers immediately.

Since scoring in Game 1 in the opening round of the playoffs, Rangers sniper Marian Gaborik—the team leader in goals in the regular season with 41—has been held without a goal in eight straight playoff games.

Hardly the numbers you want to see from your No. 1 offensive threat. But has it been THAT bad for Gaborik? Not necessarily.

In last night’s Game 2 loss to the Washington Capitals, Gaborik had the primary assist on Brad Richards’ goal late in the first period. Using his underrated playmaking abilities, Gaborik cut to the middle, allowing Richards a lane to the net and fired a pass that was redirected past Braden Holtby.

Objectively, it’s plays similar to that which have escaped Gaborik during the playoffs, as well as having the time and space to fire off his deadly shot. But is that a byproduct of not giving maximum effort?

Hardly. It’s more a case of Gaborik being marked extremely well.

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It’s almost common in the NHL to know each team’s top-six forwards will cancel each other out and it’s up to the respective role players to come up huge. It’s why we’ve seen players like Ruslan Fedotenko, Mike Rupp and Maxim Talbot, to name a few, score critical, Cup-clinching goals for their teams in the past.

The getting isn’t too good in the NHL’s second season.

During the Senators series, Gaborik was not only marked well, Ottawa defenders were very physical with him, possibly taking him off his game. Gaborik thrives in the open ice, and need time and space to be effective. Take that away, and you’ve rendered Gaborik useless.

Through two games, Washington has done a superb job of limiting Gaborik sans a breakaway chance in Game 1. The competition only gets tougher as the playoffs move on.

Is that an excuse for Gaborik to have just one goal in the playoffs? Absolutely not. There are no excuses in the playoffs and it’s up to the Slovak to find a way to make a difference.

It’s a critical reason why the New York Rangers need to get their power play—ranked 23rd in the NHL in the regular season and just 10th of 16 teams in the postseason—in order. If goals aren’t going to come five-on-five, then the power play becomes paramount. It’s the area where a team’s skilled players like Gaborik have a chance to make a difference because of the man advantage.

New York’s power play was inconsistent at best during the regular season. Despite seeing glimpses in Game 2, it needs to be better going forward.

So does Marian Gaborik. Otherwise, winning the series with Washington becomes much more difficult.

James Wrabel, Jr.
Hockey This Week

Follow James on Twitter @thewrage

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