Marian Gaborik, signed by the Rangers for five years last July, was undoubtedly the best player on this team other than goaltender Henrik Lundqvist in the 2009-10 season. Aside from minor injuries here and there, Marian was able to stay healthy for a majority of the year, playing in 76 of 82 games. If there was one question mark heading into the season when it came to the 28-year-old speed demon, it was his health, because when at 100 percent, we were all well aware of his capabilities on the ice. Luckily, he kept himself in good shape and we got to enjoy watching his talent from opening night in October all the way to the final game in April.
What We Liked: Ummmm..... A LOT. Starting with Gaborik's numbers on the season, his 42 goals and 86 points were the best offensive statistics put up by an individual player on the Blueshirts since Jaromir Jagr in 2005-06. He finished tenth in the National Hockey league in overall scoring, and fifth in goals scored. So if you did not believe that the Slovakian Star was one of the best players on Earth before this season, I think you were probably convinced after watching him all year, and if not, just compare his numbers to some of the world-class talent out there. If on a better team and with better linemates, there is no doubt in my mind that Marian could have earned the Rocket Richard trophy for the leading goal scorer.
Gaborik was one of the few who contributed on the poweplay for the Rangers as well. He registered 14 goals and 12 assists for 26 points with the man advantage, pretty good numbers considering he was on a failing powerplay unit. What I liked about Gaborik on the powerplay is two things. One is that he has the ability to slow a play down, but himself time, and wait for the perfect connection for a goal to become available. If you go back and look at the tape of Ranger powerplays, just take notice of how much space and time he creates for himself just by stick-handling along the boards. Also, he has the ability to do the complete opposite, and that is to make a play happen without even thinking about it and before the opposition has time to react. Gaborik has one of the quickest releases in the game, both wristshot and slapshot, and that was evident with the velocity and speed of some of the rockets he blasted when on the powerplay.
I feel like I say this in almost every post here on the Banter, but the Rangers biggest problem this season was consistency. What else is new? However, that excludes Gaborik, because the only slump he went through was in January when he did not score in five straight games, if you even want to call that a slump. That is tremendously impressive when playing on a team that just barely finished with a record above .500. Also, Marian was very clutch for New York this year, scoring 19 of his goals in the third period.
Continue reading after the jump.
What We Didn't Like: I know what you're thinking: "How the hell is Nick going to pick out something bad about Gaborik?". Well folks, there is one thing that bothered me about Marian. It may be different from what you didn't like about him, or you may just think he is flawless, but I have one problem with him. On several occasions this year, late in tight games, he was caught watching a play unfold instead of making the defensive play that could have potentially saved them the game. Now I do not know if that is a psychological thing or what, but it happened several times and once sparked coach Tortorella to refer to Gabby's backcheck as "horse****".
Highlight Game: There are a lot of games I could pick as Gaborik's "best" but I have to go with his hat trick against the Colorado Avalanche back on January 31st. He had a goal in each period and was the main reason the Blueshirts were able to come out on top of the Avs. Below, though, is a highlight reel on YouTube with all of Gaborik's 42 goals this season.
Marian Gaborik 2009/2010 Highlight Reel [All 42 Goals] (via LoFFeN1987)
Final Thoughts: It's quite obvious: as long as Gaborik can stay healthy, the Rangers will have an offensive gem on their hands for the next four years. Believe it or not, he took some pressure off of Henrik Lundqvist by finally scoring some goals. Now if only we could duplicate him and have two wizards skating around out there.
Anyway, I am looking forward to watching Gabby for the next four years, as he is a real treat to observe, and really hope the Rangers do not do anything foolish like trade him. Because then, Joe would have to go and find a new avatar, and I really like the one he has now.
|2009 - Marian Gaborik||76||42||44||86||15||37||14||1||4||0||272||15.4|
Also, check out Marian's cool new website at www.mariangaborik10.com.