The New York Rangers 2010-11 season was one in which many players overachieved compared to expectations. Marian Gaborik was not one of them scoring only 22 goals in his second season in New York after lighting up Broadway with 42 in his first year under the bright lights. To help Gaborik regain his prior form the Rangers went shopping this month and bought the biggest item on the market in the form of center Brad Richards. It is not Richards job to fix Gaborik, but the skills he brings to the table should give Gaborik more opportunities and even more importantly more consistency in who he is playing with nightly.
In an interview with Larry Brooks of the New York Post, Gaborik shared his thoughts on what it will be like to play with Richards during the upcoming season.
"I respect all the players I've been with but I am very excited to get the chance to play with Richie," Gaborik told The Post by phone yesterday. "I've watched him play throughout his career and always admired his game; the way he sees the ice, the way he moves the puck, the way he makes his teammates better.”
One of the key questions for the pair will be just how quickly they can mesh to bring out the top end results that are expected from two players of their caliber.
"If I'm with Richie, it's going to be very exciting. You can never say how much time it might take to develop chemistry, you need to spend time together away from the ice and develop trust in each other, but I'm really looking forward to getting out there with him."
After the struggles he went through last season it is good to see Gaborik excited about the possibilities for next season. Expect Gaborik to come back in 2011-12 with the mentality set on proving that last season was the aberration of his two years in New York and return to prior form. The combination of the personal chemistry between those two and the decision on who will be the third member of the line could be key to determining how well each produce this season. The Rangers have numerous options that could fill that role, but the real key is the relationship between Gaborik and Richard which Gaborik is hopeful will work to the point where the line juggling can end.
"I've been used to shuffling my whole career," said Gaborik. "Maybe the reason last year there were so many changes is that I didn't play well enough, but hopefully Richie and I will be so good together there won't be any reason to change."
It would be a novel idea for the Rangers to have consistent lines throughout the year or in contrast to many nights the last few years, just for multiple shifts before the movement begins. If Gaborik and Richards click as a duo they give the Rangers the foundation of three different lines for this season. Add that duo and whomever is their third to Dubinsky, Anisimov, Callahan and Fedotenko, Boyle, Prust and the Rangers should have a level of continuity that will bode well for them as the season progresses.
The styles of Gaborik and Richards should complement one another very well and give the Rangers the elite top line threat they have been lacking the past few years. If this works to the level it is capable the Rangers will truly have a chance to become a contender this year.