Rangers Analysis: Pressure's On Gabby
In his recent piece on NHL.com where he named a player from each club that will be under the most pressure, John Kreiser hit the nail on the head when it comes to star winger Marian Gaborik. Of course, you could make a case for Henrik Lundqvist also carrying a lot of weight on his shoulders, but goaltending is never the problem, offense is and Gaborik was brought here last July to help solve that.
Here's a scary thought for Rangers fans: Gaborik had 42 goals, stayed healthy enough to play 76 games -- and the team still missed the playoffs. With no new offensive savior on the horizon and no one else on the roster who scored more than 20 goals, Gaborik will have to do at least as well (and stay at least as healthy) in his second season in the Big Apple as he did in his first for the Rangers to get back into the playoffs.
Could not have said that any better myself. Gaborik played in one of his best seasons health-wise and numbers-wise this past year, yet the Rangers still found themselves on the outside looking in wen it came to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. His 42 goals, which tied a career high, were not enough for the Blueshirts to be an offensive force, especially when he went through a minor slump in the month of January.
Like I have said over and over again, this year's team is shaping up to look a lot like that of last year's so I would not plan on Marian getting any extra help or support once again. It is his job to carry the load, and God forbid he gets injured seriously, head coach John Tortorella and his squad are in deep trouble.
The recent rumor of Alexander Frolov possibly coming to the Rangers would help Gaborik on offense somewhat, but Frolov is no 40-goal scorer. Actually, he has only notched 30 goals twice in his career and I am unsure as to whether or not he could even do that again.
So Gaborik will again be "the man" up front for New York. Tortorella needs to preserve his leading scorer and preserve him well, something I do give Torts credit for doing in 2009-10. If that means taking practices off or sitting out a game here and there, so be it. He is too valuable to risk, and if he goes down, the Rangers are a team of second and third liners with no go-to scorer.