Thursday we talked about the growth of Ryan McDonagh in the absence of Marc Staal and how his game has helped the New York Rangers to success this season. But another player who is getting quite a bit of attention, deservedly so, due to a rejuvenated season is Marian Gaborik.
Gaborik, who struggled to just 22 goals last season, already has nine goals and six assists on the year, and despite not scoring in his past two games the sniper has looked as dangerous as ever.
The marriage between Brad Richards and Gaborik didn't work in the beginning but Rangers assistant general manager and assistant coach Jim Schoenfeld doesn't think it's a matchup dead in the water.
"At first we had him playing with Brad Richards which we thought on paper might work," he said. "You have a great center and a great shooter and it really didn't work right away. That doesn't mean we can't revisit it and it doesn't mean that it might not work in the future either. But it didn't have the chemistry we thought it would."
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So John Tortorella started juggling Gaborik's centers. First it was Erik Christensen, then it was Brandon Dubinsky and now he's on a line with Derek Stepan and Artem Anisimov, a line which has shown tremendous chemistry and has produced fantastic results.
Schoenfeld was impressed with Gaborik's ability to still be productive without Richards on his line.
"Through it all Gaborik kept getting his goals and he kept getting his points whether he was playing with Richards or not," he said. "He was finding other ways to score. His entire game, his focus is clearer, his decision making offensively have been effective. He's not shooting when he should be skating, he's not passing when he should be shooting."
Gaborik's play hasn't just improved in the offensive zone. He's stepped up all over the ice.
"Everything seems to be the right decision, and his game has become complete too," Scheonfeld said. "He's made some great plays for us defensively. He has been blocking shots, winning board battles, making sure the puck gets out. His entire game from last year has dramatically improved and our fortunes as a team improved because of that."