There is plenty to be happy about with the Rangers first-round win over the Senators. They faced their biggest adversity of the season and were able to overcome it. Henrik Lundqvist looked like the world-class goaltender we all believe he is. Brad Richards and Derek Stepan stepped up when they were most needed. Chris Kreider has been extremely impressive as a rookie and has only played a handful of games.
But someone was missing from the first round, and that someone needs to step up his offensive game in the second round.
He had one goal* (Game 1) and two assists in the first round, both coming in Game 2. He had 40 goals this last season, so he has to come around at some point, right?
That’s where I get concerned because I’ve looked at his career playoff statistics. He’s had 14 goals in 41 career NHL playoff games and a total of 27 points. That’s far off from the nearly a point per game player he was this last regular season.
The question people may ask in the back of their minds and I’m not afraid to ask: Is Marian Gaborik a choker? You know you thought it a little when you looked at his career playoff statistics.
I know some rival fans who are going to say “yes, yes, yes” to that question just to get under my skin (in fact, I had that discussion with a Flyers fan the other day).
I think the answer is to be determined, especially this season. Gaborik didn’t play on a team like the current Rangers while he was in Minnesota with all of the expectations. He didn’t have someone like Brad Richards there to urge him forward.
And now Gaborik is in the position where he’s going to need to show us that he isn’t a choker and can be a game changer for the Rangers (I am not sold he’s a game changer like, say, Jagr was either). Players are made and broken in New York based on their playoff performances, so this is Gaborik’s time to break any thoughts that he is a choker.
The Washington Capitals can be a dangerous team, mattering if guys like Alex Ovechkin decide to show up, and they have a hot goaltender. The Rangers need every offensive threat they have, including Gaborik.
It’s great when Gaborik contributes on the forecheck by shooting or getting back on defense, but the Rangers need more than that from him. Intangibles only get you so far in the playoffs.
*Update: Gaborik did have a goal in Game 1, so that is three points in the first round with no points after Game 4.
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