After the Rangers fourth consecutive loss Saturday night against the Montreal Canadiens, John Tortorella was asked whether or not his team can succeed without their best players playing to their abilities: "No. It will be difficult. It will be difficult. Your top guys need to make some difference in the game, and it's just not there." It's no secret that the 'top guy' he is referring to is Marian Gaborik who has grown an affinity for donning an invisibility cloak this season.
Gaborik hasn't nearly played like the game-breaker he has been in the past. On most nights, he's barely noticeable and has rarely shown flashes of the explosiveness he's known for. Gaby has only scored in nine of the 41 games he has played this season. He has rotated line-mate to line-mate and has still been unable to find steady chemistry with any of them.
It's no coincidence that the Rangers have had a sad excuse for a power play this season. It doesn't take advanced statistics to know that there is a direct correlation between Gaborik's offensive struggles and the Rangers inability to convert on the power play. Time and time again the Rangers power play has failed them in key situations. The 2-0 loss to Montreal was a perfect example; the Rangers had four consecutive power plays and only mustered a single shot - game over.
With 27 games remaining in the season and the Rangers hovering around the last few playoff spots, their fate lies on Gaborik's stick. Now that the Rangers are beginning to get healthy as a team and Ryan Callahan, Vinny Prospal, and Brandon Dubinsky have returned to the lineup, the only thing that is holding them back is Gaborik. If he can begin to produce, the Rangers power play will drastically improve; you simply cannot win in the playoffs without a formidable power play. A team has to have the ability to make the opposition pay for it's mistakes. With every Rangers power play that comes up empty it breathes life into the opposing team's hopes for a victory.
If Gaborik produces, the Rangers power play produces. If the Rangers power play produces, then they are a legitimate playoff team with a chance to make a splash. It's that simple.
Marian Gaborik is the key. The season is on his shoulders.
Paging Dr. Gaborik .. Dr. Gaborik to the power play please..
Agree? Disagree? Feel free to email me canyonofblueshirts (at) gmail.com.