It might only been five games into the 2011 New York Rangers' season, but we're
already beginning to see some serious chemistry brewing between Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik. Yes, there's still bumps in the road between the two, and visible places for improvement, but that's what makes the start of the season so remarkable.
Gaborik, who only scored 22 goals last year, already has four goals in five games. Richards has assisted on all four of those goals, including Friday night's beauty to get the puck to Derek Stepan who then set up the Rangers first power play goal of the season. The only game where Gaborik didn't score, against the Anaheim Ducks, Richards scored on a beauty that earned Blueshirt Banter's first ever highlight of the week.
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The two have been connecting all over the ice, including against the Calgary Flames where Richards set up Gaborik for prime scoring chances twice more before the period was even over.
You can see the effect it's having on Gaborik already. He's more comfortable on the ice, and he's no longer trying to do everything himself. Now, instead of going into the corners to flush out the puck and try to create his own scoring chances, he's going to the dangerous areas of the ice.
More often than not, when the Rangers are in the offensive zone, Gaborik is around the net, where he is most lethal. All of his goal this year, aside from the one against the Vancouver Canucks, have been big goals as well. He score the go-ahead goal against the Los Angeles Kings, the game tying goal against the New York Islanders and the first goal of the game Friday night.
And while you can point to his goal scoring ability as a mean reason for the early season success, don't discount what simply being on the ice with Richards does for Gaborik. Suddenly he can just focus on scoring goals and not have to worry about being "Mr. Everything."
It's taken a load of pressure off his shoulders, and the results are exactly what Rangers fans want to see. The best part? It's only going to get better. The more Richards and Gaborik play, the more comfortable the two will become. And if the duo has done this well to start the season, it should be even better results as they continue to gel.