Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Video: Marian Gaborik Four Goal Breakout

All four of Marian Gaborik's goals on the evening.  Now this is what I call breaking out of a slump.

Gaborik Responds To Benching With Four Goals Leading 7-0 Drubbing of Leafs

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
All the talk the past few days around the New York Rangers has been about the offense that has disappeared and the star who has not been scoring.  That discussion was compounded before the game when the team’s leading scorer Brandon Dubinsky was announced to be out for the next 3-4 weeks with a stress fracture in his leg.  Apparently Marian Gaborik was tired of the conversation about the offense and himself, so he went out explodes for four goals to end all the talk.  Those four goals would pace the Rangers on their way to a 7-0 shellacking of Toronto.  Even if it only lasts for one night this was exactly the cathartic breakout the team and fans needed.
Gaborik would get it started at 10:55 of the first when he would take a brilliant feed from Sean Avery and instead of just firing the puck he outwaited Gustavsson and stickhandles around him tucking the puck inside the post.  Once he got his first in nine games you had the sense that there would be no denying him the rest of the night.  The second one came at 13:21 where Gaborik would stuff in a beautiful pass from Artem Anisimov after great work along the boards.  The only thing that interrupted those two goals by Gaborik was Brian Boyle chipping in with a deflection of a Marc Staal point shot on the power play.  All told the Rangers would net three goals in 2:26 chasing Gustavsson from the net.
In game J.S. Giguere and with the mood the Rangers were in he was not greeted very warmly when he gave up a bad goal to Ruslan Fedotenko through the five-hole on a shot from the slot. 
Due to Giguere wanting to play tomorrow against his former club and his sore groin they would put Gustavsson back in for the second and it would be the same as before.  Gaborik would continue in the second period again from Anisimov and Avery where he would fire the puck from a sharp angle and have it squeeze through Gustavsson at 11:16 of the second and then he would flash his world class wrist shot on his final tally of the night, from the slot, at 14:44. 
Mats Zuccarello would combine with Derek Stepan on a beautiful passing play early in the third to cap off the great night.
Oh yea, and that Lundqvist guy got his seventh shutout of the season too.  Heck of a night, now they have to repeat the effort tomorrow at Carolina.
  • The difference for Gaborik tonight was where he was on the ice.  The first two goals and even the final goal were in areas that he has not been consistently going.  Go to the net and you will be rewarded
  • Obviously Gaborik is the story of the game but do not overlook the four assists for Artem Anisimov and three for Sean Avery.
  • Wojtek Wolski chipped in with two assists
  • Best stat of the night for me is Ryan McDonagh playing 21:21 with a +3 allowing Marc Staal to only play 17:27 and rest up for his brother tomorrow.
  • Do not lose sight of how huge the two early penalty kills were to this game.
  • The only negative is Ruslan Fedotenko getting injured and being out 2-4 weeks with a second degree A/C sprain in the shoulder.
  • With the injury to Dubinsky Chad Kolarik was called up during the game
  • With the injury to Fedotenko the decision was made after the game to call on Brodie Dupont

Rangers Recall Chad Kolarik from Whale

After originally saying there would be no immediate move to bring someone up from the Connecticut Whale the New York Rangers have brought Chad Kolarik up as a result of the Brandon Dubinsky injury.  Kolarik who the Whale acquired for Dane Byers has been very good for the Whale tallying 13 goals and 10 assists in 26 games since being acquired.  Overall Kolarik has 17 goals and 33 points in 39 games played this season.

Kolarik is the right decision in looking to add skill to the lineup as he has speed, vision and finishing touch that makes him a threat on each shift.

With Dubinsky Out Avery Moves Up With Gaborik; More Details on Injury

Jesse Spector tweets the reconfigured lines for tonight:

For all those who wanted Avery to get more time and a more offensive role he certainly is poised to do that with the injury to Dubinsky.  Avery has played well in the past with Gaborik and hopefully they will strike some magic again as there are not many other options at the moment.

Zipay adds that Dubinsky's leg has been bothering him for awhile. Yesterday following practice he finally had it checked out and after an MRI yesterday and bone bone scan today the injury was diagnosed.  The fact that it somewhat of a longer term thing would explain the slow down in his production but speaks to Dubinsky's grit and toughness to keep playing as hard as he has in the interim while logging the minutes he has been asked to carry. 

Brandon Dubinsky Latest Casulty, Out 3-4 Weeks With Fibula Injury

Kevin Allen is reporting via twitter, the Rangers will be without Brandon Dubinsky for 3-4 weeks with a stress fracture in his fibula. 

As if the Rangers have not dealt with enough injuries so far this year, they get one now to the best forward all season.  Dubinsky leads the team in goals (17), assists (21), and points (38). He also averages more than 20 minutes per game, almost a full minute more than any other forward on the team, and that’s because he plays in all situations.  This is yet another huge loss to a club that has already suffered through losing Drury, Callahan, Prospal, Christensen and Gaborik for significant stretches this season.

At some point you have to wonder when a team that was short on talent to begin with runs out of answers for this level of injury not just in number but in the significance the players have to the team.  Being without both Dubinsky and Callahan for these five games leading into the All-Star break is a huge test for the Rangers to maintain their overachievement to this point in the season.

If there was not enough pressure on Marian Gaborik to step his game up and produce offensively there certainly is now.  This also amps what the club is asking of youngsters like Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan up yet another level.

Should Rangers Bench Chris Drury When Injured Forwards Return?

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
With the emergence of young players like Mats Zuccarello and acquisition of Wojtek Wolski, the New York Rangers forward core looks considerably different compared to when Ryan Callahan and Erik Christensen went down with injuries.  With both Callahan and Christensen on the mend and hoping to return in the next few weeks now is a good time to consider what the lineup might look like when they do. 
With Kris Newbury and Dale Weise currently here the Rangers are carrying 13 healthy forwards.  When Callahan and Christensen return it is likely both Newbury and Weise will be sent back to the AHL, with Weise likely going before then.  Even if Weise goes before anyone comes back to the lineup the first return, presumably Callahan February 1, will force someone back to the bench.  The obvious choice in that scenario is for it to be Newbury, but the coaching staff has been very pleased with his play and how he fits the system, so that might not be such a given outcome.
When Christensen comes back the decision making process becomes more complicated both for what Christensen has the potential to bring, but also what others in the lineup are not.  Many are discussing whether he has a role with the team when he returns and that is certainly a valid topic to consider, but there is another Rangers forward who on merit should be the one on the outside looking in; Chris Drury.
It would be surprising to see, but certainly not without merit for John Tortorella to scratch Captain Chris Drury who has basically become a face-off man, penalty killer and spare forward.  There is no production from Drury on the offensive end to speak of as he has zero goals and four assists in 16 games this season.  Those numbers include Drury being without a point in the Rangers last ten games.  The Rangers showed in Drury’s absence that the penalty kill can certainly survive without his presence and with Callahan back that would be the case again. 
Beyond that the team showed with Callahan at the helm in terms of leadership there was no significant void in that department either.  It is said that Drury is a leader by example and well respected in the room, which I have no doubt about being the case.  The reality is this team is supposed to be about results on the ice and as hard as Drury busts it on the penalty kill there are other guys who can fill that role as well while giving more potential offense to the team.  This team is supposed to be about accountability and earning your time and scratching the captain would certainly send a message that no one is above that standard.  For me the biggest advantage Drury has to staying in the lineup is not about leadership or penalty killing, nut the utter lack of solid face-off men on the roster.
This decision on Christensen vs Drury if those are the two main considerations may once again come back to Marian Gaborik as seemingly all lineup decisions do right now.  If the team is still searching for a match to get Marian Gaborik going when Christensen returns, I would expect him to be in the lineup.  Like it or not the most consistent and effective center with Gaborik has been Christensen.  If Gaborik is still struggling and Anisimov does not pick up his own production I could easily see Anisimov being pushed back to the fourth line and Erik getting another chance with Marian.
Asking this same question after the Wolski trade I thought that the guy who was going to be the one drawing the short straw, no pun intended, was going to be Mats Zuccarello, but after his recent play they must find a place for him in the top nine.  The Rangers best lineup in my opinion would roll four lines and look something like this:
For me all of these lines have worked in the past to varying degrees and would allow the Rangers at least a chance at consistency in their lineup.

Artem Anisimov: Long Term Answer Or Trade Bait?

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Artem Anisimov is a 22-year-old second year center for the New York Rangers who has shown both flashes of brilliance and periods of ineffectiveness with particular slumps on the offensive end of the ice.  Overall this season Anisimov has contributed ten goals and twelve assists while playing 15:38 per game in 47 games.  At that pace Anisimov would be expected to end the year a line of 17-21-38 which would make for a respectable second season.  The question for today though is simple: Is Artem Anisimov part of the future or trade bait for a bigger fish?

Following a strong close to his rookie season there was a clamoring for Anisimov to move up in the lineup to a more offensive position where he could better display his offensive gifts.  At the start of this season he got that chance playing on the second line with Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan in what quickly became the Rangers best line.  Anisimov made the most of this opportunity recording six goals and eight assists in the team’s first 17 games this season.  In just about every game Anisimov was a force on both ends using his improved speed and strength to be more involved in all aspects of the game and it appeared as the Rangers had finally found a top flight center. 

Sven Bartschi Goes One Hand Between The Legs In CHL Skill Compeition (Video)

Sven Bartschi of the Portland Winterhawks (WHL) and likley 2011 1st round draft pick showed off his skills in the breakaway shootout portion of the CHL skills contest with this beautiful one handed between the legs goal.

Video from [NHLdraftvideo]

Recap: Gaborik Stand Up Or Sit Down After Benching? New Lines Again; Weise Likely Gone; Staal All-Star Talk

After avoiding the Marian Gaborik story on Monday I dove into with both feet today looking at many different aspects of the struggles for the New York Rangers’ best offensive player.  The key issue for Gaborik and the Rangers now is how Marian will respond to the benching.  The results can be positive if it motivates him to get going, makes him look at what is different from last year to this in his own play.  If the issue was confidence before the benching and added attention that came with that it could make the hole even deeper to climb out of, as it did for Michael Del Zotto.  With many other articles out focusing on the benching itself instead of the underlying causes I took a more overall look at the situation than just the eventual move Sunday on both Gaborik’s individual and the team basis. 

The entire offense is clearly struggling to put pucks in the net this month, but because of his stature, salary and history of production it is Gaborik who is now getting the attention because the struggles to score finally meant losses for the team.  It is not like Gaborik was lighting it up before this point, but winning is the best deodorant so the stories for the most part remained unwritten.  Now that the team lost two in a row the mass drop of stories on how Gaborik is struggling is somewhat mind-boggling. 

The problem in trying to gauge how Gaborik is going to respond to the benching is that the underlying problems are still there and without a definitive answer as to whether the issue is mental, physical or chemistry related there is no telling of the response.  Check out my thoughts on all the theories that are out there, Gaborik’s words in response to his benching and whether reinforcements for him are really coming or it’s on him to start pulling himself up.  In the end, the harsh reality is though that Gaborik either has to step his game up or sit down because this version is not helping anyone in where the Rangers are trying to go.

Out of Rangers practice today there was yet another new set of lines and more tinkering in terms of the power play.  Maybe it is more the feeling around the fans and in the stories than the team itself, but it feels like each time additional change to try and get Gaborik specifically and the offense as a whole going it has a greater sense of desperation to it.  Who knows how long this set will last, but certainly let me know what you think of the new formations.

Didn’t do a post on it, but might as well talk about the announcement of Eric Staal as one of the captains in the NHL All-Star game and how it created a lot of talk today about when Marc Staal would be picked and what team he would be on.  I joked this morning that Eric was going to collude with Nicklas Lidstrom to ensure Marc was the last pick in the draft to get back at Marc for calling Eric “mouthy.”  According to the rules Marc cannot be the last overall selection as all defenders have to be selected by the end of the 15th round.  Nothing says that Marc still cannot be the last defender taken though.  Either way the Staal brother’s storyline will be there for the draft on January 28th along with hundreds of mentions about the fact they are brothers.

On the Rangers official website Jim Cerny takes a look at some of the quotes that have come from Marc Staal both today and recently on the possibility of playing with his brother in the game and what the whole weekend means to him.

Dave Lozo of looked at Eric’s side of the equation.

So when does Staal get picked?  Will Marc be on Eric’s team?