Thursday, January 20, 2011

Marian Gaborik Back In Form or Just Another Tease? Why Last Night Might Be Different

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
For much of the season the New York Rangers have been searching for their star sniper and waiting for Marian Gaborik to regain his form of last season.  Last night, at least for one night, the wait was over. Gaborik busted out of his personal eight-game scoring drought last night with a huge four-goal game just when the Rangers needed it most.  Having just lost their leading scorer Brandon Dubinsky the pressure on Gaborik to return to form was only going to grow and he relieved all the pressure with a goal only someone who has been there as often as he has can.  His move on Jonas Gustavsson and the patience it displayed did not strike anyone who saw it as a player who was down on confidence.  It was the move of a pure goal scorer.  The patience and the precision showed that Gaborik has stopped thinking about the game and just started playing it again.

Once he broke the seal on the slump you knew there would be no stopping him for the rest of the night, which was a huge relief for Rangers’ fans, but now we need Marian to keep the magic going.  The way that will happen is not just shown in the number of goals that Gaborik scores, but the mentality in which he plays.  If you notice the difference in Gaborik last night more than anything else was where he was located on the ice.  Gone was the man who hung along the boards and skated around the periphery.  Back was the vulture who attacked the scoring areas and was willing to take punishment if necessary to finish for his club.  There is no denying the pure talent Gaborik has to finish, but it is the mentality and his willingness to put himself in those areas where he can truly be a sniper that had been missing.

"It is a big challenge for me and everybody here," Gaborik said. "A lot of guys need to step up, including myself. We have had a lot of injuries this year. We can't make excuses. We have to keep it up and go with whoever we have in the lineup."

The mentality that is espoused in that quotation has been the Rangers philosophy in dealing with the myriad of injuries they have confronted this season and is exactly the one they need to have as they push forward.  Every night it must be up to someone to step to the forefront and take the challenge of pushing this team on towards their ultimate goals and filling in the roles of their missing members. 

While that is the right approach as a team, Marian Gaborik is still the man who has to put the offense on his back and carry it for a little while until the injury bug decides to take up residence somewhere else.  For one night Gaborik certainly played his role as the conquering hero and now the team needs him to display his magical powers on a more consistent basis.  If he continues with the regained confidence and mentality to be an attacker instead of reactionary the rest of the league better watch out because while other forwards keep dropping like flies the New York Rangers will be celebrating the return of their most dangerous weapon.  If this was just another tease at old form returning as his other huge games were, then the Rangers are in some short term trouble.