Marian Gaborik has been the New York Rangers best forward thus far this season. Gaborik has returned to the form of his first season in New York with four goals already and showing the burst he never really had last season. With as well as Gaborik has been playing the fact he was not playing for much of the third period against Winnipeg caused concern for possible injury and/or anger at coach John Tortorella for possibly benching the star winger. Luckily it appears that neither of those was the case.
According to Larry Brooks at The New York Post the reason that Gaborik only got four shifts and 3:03 of ice time in the third period was because of the amount of time the team spent pinned in their own end.
“It was not a benching,” Tortorella said. “Gabby has probably been our most consistent forward.”
There are those who still want to see Gaborik get his ice time because of how good he has been and it is hard to blame them for that. It was a missed Gaborik shift that saw Prust, Richards and Fedotenko get pinned in the defensive zone for nearly two minutes, but eventually led to the power play that Callahan scored on. Once the Rangers took the lead there was no reason to double shift Gaborik to make up for the lost ice time, especially since there are forwards much better equipped to preserve the lead. Sure Gaborik could go out and make it a two goal game with another snipe and make the rest of the game a little easier to take, but his line also could have been responsible for giving up the tying goal and then Tortorella would have been hammered for having him out there.
Gaborik will get used and abused when the team is in need of a goal while down one or tied in the third, so there is no reason to worry about running him out there when you have the lead. That is the luxury of having Callahan, Dubinsky, Boyle, Prust to sustain those third period leads. Tortorella makes questionable decisions with the lineup and the lines, but his use of Gaborik in the third period Monday night was not one of them.