The New York Rangers have been looking for the right combination to go with Marian Gaborik for some time trying out countless groupings, but an injury to Wojtek Wolski might have finally allowed them to hit on the right one. Both Artem Anisimov and Derek Stepan have struggled at times early in the season to repeat the work they did for New York last year finding themselves on the fourth line for periods of time. Stepan was put back with Gaborik a few games back, but Anisimov got his first shot with him, this year, last night against Montreal.
While the two young forwards did not connect with Gaborik in the game last night both showed tremendous vision and passing that should make their combination with the Rangers' sniper a potentially lethal one. Stepan showed off his passing acumen with his top quality feeds to Erik Christensen and Michael Del Zotto for their goals and Anisimov showed his vision finding Dan Girardi for the Rangers other goal of the first period. Having players who can skate, see the ice and have the passing ability of Stepan and Anisimov is great for Gaborik as he can carry the puck less through the neutral zone and when he works his way open they will find him. The willingness of both Stepan and Anisimov to work in the corners and on the forechecking cycle allows Gaborik to work free more in the slot areas as well. The key for the two young players will be to continue to play their game and take the opportunity that is there without trying to force chances with Gaborik.
Gaborik has been playing at a tremendously high level all season despite the constant changing of his linemates, but if the Rangers can have these two young, highly-skilled forwards seize the opportunity with their top sniper, Gaborik could take it to yet another level. Beyond that it would bring a level of stability to the Rangers offensive lines as Richards has found a home with Dubinsky and Callahan and the Boyle line remains in tact.