Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gaborik Must Finish Or The Rangers Are Likely Finished

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
To say that the impact of Marian Gaborik for the New York Rangers during the 2010-11 season has been mixed would be an understatement.  Gaborik has fought through multiple injuries during the course of the year and whether they were the cause or not he has suffered from inconsistency both in impact and pure numbers.  On the year Gaborik has accounted for 22 goals and 25 assists in 60 games, which are respectable totals but not close to what was expected coming off last season.  Gaborik can erase all thoughts of his struggles this season by playing to his status as the offensive superstar of this team for these next two games and helping to will them with his skill into the playoffs.

His game has picked up lately and his threat level is more noticeable, but at the same time he is not paid 7.5 million dollars a season to just be a threat.  He is paid to score goals and while his game has picked up he is not finishing as he has gone seven straight games without a goal to show for his efforts.  That will not cut it in these final two games.  The stakes are too high.  The race is too tight.  The team cannot afford to come up just short two seasons in a row and the onus offensively comes back to the guy who is supposed to be the star.

With Callahan out of the lineup the offensive burden falls even more to the shoulders of Marian Gaborik than it had before.  Gaborik was brought in here to be the primary scoring the Rangers were looking for and hopefully they could surround him with secondary guys to balance the lineup.  What has resulted instead is a lot of secondary scorers are having career years and the primary scorer forgot how to consistently finish and lead his team in the only way he really can.  He is now playing with Dubinsky and Anisimov in Callahan’s spot on what has arguably been the best line for the Rangers this season.  If this team is going to hold off the charging Hurricanes the Rangers will need for Marian Gaborik to be able to shoulder the load of standing tall like superstars are supposed to when the season is on the line.  It might be unfair to put that burden on one player, especially with how the team has had the collective identity all season long, but playoff time is when stars have to step to the forefront and this team will either be lifted by the goal scoring of their best offensive player or they will likely be home watching the other stars play in the extra season.