Earlier in the season, Marian Gaborik was contending with Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby for the scoring title in the National Hockey League. Most often, Marian was between first and fifth in scoring in the league, even when the team went through rough stretches. Now, though, several months later, Gaborik has dropped to tenth in scoring with 73 points. Obviously that is not horrible or anything, but when you consider where Gaborik was in November to where he is now in March, there have been some drastic changes in the star winger's game.
I truly believe Gaborik is playing with an injury of some sort. Maybe he is still suffering from the groin issue that acted up while he was in Vancouver for the Olympic Games, or maybe not. We will not be finding out anytime soon, as the coaching staff has such a strict policy when it comes to leaking information to the public. Anyway, if it is an injury from the Olympics, our greatest fear has become reality.
If you watch Gaborik now, and then watch clips of him during a game in November, there is a very noticeable change in his speed and explosiveness. Gaborik's game is built around his superior speed, and when that weapon in his arsenal is not available to him, his entire game will be thrown off. With a groin injury, it would only make sense that he would have trouble skating at top speed, and like I said, I truly feel that is the case.
When Gaborik is not scoring, the New York Rangers are not scoring. This saying may be getting old by now because we have been hearing it over and over again since the start of the regular season, but when you think about it, it adds up. Marian accounts for just under fifty percent of this team's offense afterall.
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Now what I find ironic about this is that since Gaborik has returned from injury after the Olympics, the Rangers have once again been haunted by goal scoring difficulties. They were actually scoring consistently while Gaborik was out, but once he came back, they were shutout, and then later struggled to put in more than two per game. It is likely just a coincidence, but there is always a chance that there is a reason behind it.
The only other explanation that I could come up with is that the team so heavily relies on Marian to lead the way when he is in the lineup, and now with his injury, he is not looking as sharp as usual, so basically his mates are relying on a player that is performing at about sixty-five percent. That isn't going to win you games, that is for sure.
Anyway, Gaborik is undoubtedly a crucial player for this team. He is their main guy on offense and has been one of the very few individuals that has been somewhat consistent. Now with that consistency gone, the Rangers are struggling to find secondary scoring; the worst time of the year for that to happen. Now head coach John Tortorella is left juggling the lines once again, trying to find a center for Gaborik. So here we are, six months into the season and there still is not one player on the roster that gels with Gaborik other than Vinny Prospal.
Gaborik has been coasting out there on the ice, he has not been as prolific of a shooter as he was in the beginning of the season, and turnovers have been coming abundant. In a way, Gaborik's injury in the Olympics may just have cost this team a playoff spot, because they are all being dragged down with him.