Marian Gaborik is showing us the Marian Gaborik that all Rangers fans love, and the one that we all missed dearly. Last season, he was flopped around on different lines. Lines with Stepan and Fedotenko, Wolski and Anisimov, Stepan and Prospal, and so on, and so on. Finding consistency was hard last season, not just with lines, but also with his play. But this season, they seem to have the answer. He not only seems to have found his legs, but he also found his stick-handling and his keen ability to convert passes into scoring opportunities. He also seems to have found his confidence. Gaborik is well-matched on the line with Richards and Stepan. The passing chemistry between the three of them is something of pure beauty.
So far, on this Western Canadian road trip, he has notched 11 shots, 2 goals and an average of 19 minutes of ice time per game. He was able to unload 3 shots on goal against the Canucks, sending one into the net. Watching Gaborik’s goal from Vancouver, he was in the right spot at the right time, thanks in part to some hustle and some nice set up from Richards and McDonagh. In Calgary, he exploded. His goal was on the power play, the Rangers first PPG of the season. He did a great job keeping the puck in the zone, then hustled to just between the face off circles allowing Stepan to find him easily. During play in both games, you could see more jump in his stride. Even when there were no scoring chances, he was able to make plays offensively and at times defensively.
I think his successful play early in the season is not only what the Rangers needed, but what Marian Gaborik needed. He seems more confident on the ice, more willing and able to hustle. The key to Gaborik having a great season is keeping his fragile-as-glass groin safe. If he plays smart and listens to his body, he should be a force to be reckoned with on the ice.
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