Rangers Analysis: What's Wrong With Gaborik

NEW YORK NY - JANUARY 19: Marian Gaborik #10 of the New York Rangers celebrates his hattrick goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden on January 19 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Marian Gaborik has three hat tricks this season, including a four-goal outburst against the Toronto Maple Leafs earlier this season. 

Normally, this would be a reason to celebrate like it's 1994. Unfortunately, it's basically a bad thing. 

In those three separate performances Gaborik has tallied 10 goals. So that's 10 goals this season in three games. In his other 38 games this season he has six goals. Want to know something even more alarming? In each hat trick he has had this season, he has added an assist. So that means that he has 10 goals and 3 assists for 13 points in three games. Thus, he only has 20 points in the other 38 games this season. 

So roughly two thirds of Gaborik's goals this year have come in three games.  

Before I go any further, let me toss out a disclaimer. This is NOT a "Gaborik has lost it" story. I highly doubt that's the case. But the reality of the situation is that there is an issue. 

Join me 

Obviously Ranger fans, and probably the Rangers brass as well, have been trying to figure out what's wrong with Gaborik.

Originally the thought process was that Gaborik's game dipped without Vinny Prospal, and this made some sense. Him and Prospal did have good chemistry, and their games worked well together. But since Prospal's return, Gaborik hasn't been much better. Gaborik has two assists in three games since Prospal has come back. 

Now, three games is an astoundingly small sample size (somewhere George is smiling) but it's what we have right now. Thus far there hasn't been a big difference in play, maybe they need a few games to get used to each other, who knows? But for now, it's not been an improvement. 

The other ideology is age. But this is clearly not a factor. It's not as if Gaborik was 30-years-old when he signed his contract, and he's turning 33. Gaborik is 28-years-old, generally regarded to be the "sweet spot" of a players prime years. If anything this should be a career year for Gaborik, not the worst year he's ever had statistically. 

Currently, Gaborik is on pace to score just 25 goals and 54 points in 68 games. That's well below his point per game career average. More worrisome? He's nowhere near the game-changer he used to be. Last year when Gaborik took the ice you had a feeling that anything could happen, those feelings haven't come around very often this season. 

So if it's not Prospal (as of yet) and it's not his age then what is it? 

There are no reports of him playing with an injury and I would have to assume that the beat reporters would have come across something like that by now. 

It's quite possible that Gaborik is having an off year, they happen. It's also quite possible that Gaborik has changed his game around after his shoulder injury. That doesn't mean he's playing hurt, but it does mean that he might be playing tentative. 

It's also highly probable that Gaborik goes on a tear and finishes the season with 35 goals. He has the talent. There is no denying that. 

Maybe it's a slump, maybe it's an injury and maybe we've beaten this topic to death. But I am curious, what do you all think is wrong with Gaborik? 

The floor is yours. 

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