It has now been eight games since Marian Gaborik last scored a goal, and with the Rangers struggling offensively as of late, many of the fingers are going to be pointed in his direction. This is only fair since he is being paid $7.5 million a year to carry the team on offense and has not done that at all this season. It has gotten to the point where head coach John Tortorella had no choice but to bench the Slovakian sniper in the second period of this weekend's game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Marian is a competitive player that puts a lot of blame on himself. He does not try to hide the fact that he is slumping, he will openly admit it. However, Sunday's benching took him by surprise....
"Obviously I haven't produced much lately. Obviously, in these types of games, it's a big game. I'm not giving up, I've just got to work harder, just try to get out of it, that's the bottom line. Confidence is a very big part. The last few games, I felt good and we created chances. I think things were happening but it was not going in. It surprised me tonight to get benched. It's the coach's decision, that's the bottom line. I have to produce and help this team win games."
That was Gaborik's reaction to being benched courtesy of Andrew Gross of Ranger Rants.
It wasn't John Tortorella's decision to bench Gaborik. It was Gaborik's decision and his passive play and lackluster effort out on the ice didn't leave the coach with much of an option. We can sit here and speculate that he is still injured or something out of his control is affecting his play, but none of that matters at the end of the day. Gaborik has to be better, and no one is going to pull him out of this slump except himself.
Continue reading after the jump....Based on that quote, it almost sounds like Gaborik is sort of feeling sorry for himself. I don't know if you get that sense as well, but that is how it appears to me. If that is the case, then it will be a long and difficult road to breaking out of this for Marian. He needs to pull himself together, suck up the tears and gain a little self-confidence.
He scored over 40 goals on a team that was not as good last season, so I cannot understand why he feels he cannot do that this year. He knows his abilities more than anyone, so it is a shock to see his self-esteem depleted like this.
I am no coach, nor do I have any experience when it comes to going through a slump at the professional level, but my advice to Gaborik would be to watch tape from last season. He needs to look where he was positioned, where he scored most of his goals and how he scored them. I understand that Vinny Prospal was his set-up man last season, but Vinny's chances of returning to the lineup are slim right now, so Gabby cannot depend on him.
Nor can he wait for the arrival of Brad Richards or any other playmaking centerman. This problem has to be fixed now and with what he has. The Rangers need him more than ever right now, and he needs to be there to answer the call.