With the New Jersey Devils already being the oldest team in the league (the only team whose average cracks 30), according to reports, it appears that they may be willing to go a little bit older, with a reclamation project of sorts, in signing free agent Alexei Yashin, a player who has actually been a free agent in NHL terms for the last five seasons, as he has been playing in Russia ever since he was bought out by his then-current team, the New York Islanders. Though his play was not terrible, he was accused of not trying his hardest on a perpetually mediocre squad, and because of the buyout, will actually still be receiving payment from the Islanders another next three seasons, to the sum of more than $2 million per year. With the Ottawa Senators earlier in his career, he had put up superstar numbers before leaving for Long Island due to a contract dispute. From there, his totals went nowhere but down, which led to his eventual demise. He is now 37 years old and coming off his worst Russian season since he embarked on the journey in 2007.
Here is a signing that no one saw coming, and that is tough guy Arron Asham completing his Atlantic Division tour by signing with the New York Rangers this afternoon for two years, at $1 million per season. While I was surprised to learn of the acquisition, I am very pleased with it, though it probably spells the end of Brandon Prust’s time on Broadway. However, Asham is a much better fighter and a lot more intimidating than the scrappy Prust. He might not bring as many intangibles, but his signing is a bargain price, something that Prust’s would most likely not be, as he is expecting to get both more years and more money with his new contract.
Even though the NHL season always seems like a long a grueling one (it is), I always find myself in amazement at how fast it actually all goes by. It is January 28th, and the proverbial first half of the season has come to an end with every NHL team skating into the All Star Break for a restful few days before the playoff chase officially begins. Who would have thought at this point, that the New York Rangers would be second in the entire league and in first place in the Eastern Conference? I can guarantee no one had it pegged as such. The highest aspirations I had for the team for the regular season were what they have been for the last few years: battling for a playoff spot the entire year, and going down to the last day.
Obviously, that could still be a possibility depending on which Rangers show up when the second half starts on Tuesday against the New Jersey Devils, but for now, let us look back on a first half that has, overall, been a great one. It seems like a long time ago that the Rangers were literally traveling all over the world to play hockey games and having a bumpy start to the season. But from then until now, Ranger fans have watched a team gel and combine to form a potent force that finds ways to win. If you think about it, it is kind of amazing that the Rangers are where they are when you consider a few things. First, the defensive core has never been healthy for a long period of time. Whether it was Marc Staal starting late, or him coming back and Mike Sauer and Steve Eminger going out, the D-corps has not been at full strength.
Mike Milbury, an in-studio analyst for NBC and their newly formed network NBC Sports, has long been a critic of the New York Rangers. For years, his slanted, biased pre-game, intermission, and post-game anti-Ranger tirades have polluted the airwaves and have come with such regularity, that normally, they do not even upset or surprise me. Coming out of the lockout, Milbury never ceased to amaze, as he tore into then-Rangers superstar winger Jaromir Jagr all season long for being soft or not having what it takes to be a leader, even in the midst of his franchise record-setting 54-goal, 123-point season. One would think that the bias shown in those years bordered on xenophobia, but thankfully, we have Don Cherry up in Canada for that. More recently, before last night, that is, during the pre-game show of the Winter Classic, when describing the Rangers and using their nickname “Blueshirts”, he just so happened to leave the “r” out of the word, causing him to call the team an expletive. Accidental? Probably. But a Freudian Slip? Most definitely.
The New York Rangers are on a road trip from hell. First they traveled more than 11,000 miles to Europe, through Scandinavian countries for exhibition matches, and now back to the United States, where they played one game on Long Island, and are now gearing up for yet another road trip, 3,000 miles to western Canada, to play four games against Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg, before finally returning to back New York for their home opener against Toronto. This schedule, made so because of the prolonged renovation underway at Madison Square Garden, and the NHL’s fascination with having the Blueshirts travel to Europe what seems like every season, left the team exhausted for their first two games in Sweden, which they dropped to the Kings and Ducks respectively, in overtime, last weekend. With the way they played, they were lucky to have even gotten the two points. Lundqvist kept the Rangers in both games, while Gaborik and Richards were excellent together. Unfortunately, the list ends there in regards to players who actually impressed.
The Rangers could have blamed those two losses on any number of factors, which also included not having enough time to get in team practices, and playing four exhibition games on large-size hockey rinks. John Tortorella even exclaimed, “We can’t wait to get the hell out of here,” upon completion of last Saturday’s loss to Anaheim. Before last night’s game against the Islanders, he told the press that, “The season starts tonight.” If that is the case, than both starts to the season were disasters. With an entire week off to rest up, practice regularly, and prepare, the Rangers were flat once again, plagued by the same thing that dragged them down in Stockholm: penalties. The Rangers were shorthanded eight times last night, the Islanders cashing in on two of those chances. The most glaring of these undisciplined penalties came at the most inopportune time, with less than five minutes remaining, and the Rangers trailing 3-2. Marian Gaborik took the most obvious hooking penalty, one reminiscent of a pre-lockout defenseman trying to manhandle an opponent. I yelled at the TV, watching incredulously. This is the most undisciplined team I have ever seen in my life, I thought to myself. After eight last night, eight against Anaheim, and five against Los Angeles, this is not rust we are seeing, but an epidemic of laziness and stupidity.
The announcers on MSG last night mentioned just before the game that Tortorella preached better discipline to the team, and then Brandon Dubinsky takes a tripping penalty a little more than a minute in. Dubinsky, whose play has been less than lackluster all throughout the preseason and these first three games, clearly looks lost and devoid of hockey sense, and has managed to have taken 20 minutes in penalties thus far. Never being a big fan of his I-Play-Good-When-I-Want-To style of play, I wonder what will have to be done to wake him up, as with the money he is being paid, he needs to either start scoring or Sather has to start looking for a new team for the egotistical “power forward”. He is the prototypical third line center being paid second line money, who has a head the size of a superstar—not really the recipe for success, is it now?
People have also blamed these losses on the injuries to defense, because of Sauer’s recent shoulder injury and Staal’s long-term concussion problems. Aside from normal nerves and a bit of shakiness in the first two games, the Rangers young defense really has not been the issue. Would I kill to have those two guys back? Of course, but I don’t see the Rangers having any wins even with them in the lineup, with the way the offense has looked so far, and the amount of penalties that have added up.
And so I ask, is it time to start worrying? It may be only three games, but the Rangers, aside from Gaborik (2 goals) and Richards (1 goal, 2 assists), have been offensively challenged. Its not even the fact that they are not scoring, but they look terrible at times. The penalties have a lot to do with that, because a team cannot develop flow when they spend nearly an entire period’s worth of playing time in the penalty box. Though there is no “reffing” conspiracy against the Rangers as some fans may tell you, there were a few calls last night that were atrocious, including a delay of game call to Brian Boyle when the puck was still moving, and a goaltender interference penalty on Callahan, who had no way to avoid hitting the goalie. That aside, the cat is out of the bag regarding the Rangers. Word is, they are undisciplined and will take stupid penalties, so you know the referees are going to watch them even closer now.
Discipline is not something a team can learn, or hopefully, re-learn overnight. This is something scarier than if the Rangers were shutout in these three games. Lundqvist has been brilliant, and is the only reason why these losses are not blowouts. But what happens when he gets a night off or has a clunker himself? Will the team just implode? Under normal circumstances, a team would welcome a four game road trip, to get out west and get away from everything; it could be a chance to refocus. But the Rangers have been on the road for about a month now, and due to their first three games, this trip is going to be anything but fun. The Canucks have always been tough opponents, and the Flames and young Oilers team will be very tough to beat. The other foe on the swing, the Jets, are still looking for their first win—will it come against New York?
The Rangers need to win two of these four games, what could be an early season-saver. Be it as it may, only mid-October, but if the Rangers drop all four games or only win one, the hole dug will be even deeper. To the people who are not alarmed, John Davidson used to say, “The points you get in October are the points you don’t need in April”. If the Rangers keep losing, playoff chances will diminish, and it does not matter what time of the season it is. At 0-1-2, the Rangers could easily be 0-3-0, so you can imagine what a poor trip out west could mean—the future is really not too bright. With the Penguins and Flyers bound to have good seasons, and the Devils and Islanders set to surprise, we may be looking at the worst team in the Atlantic this season, without a quick turnaround.
This event and all that has led up to it in the last few days is proof that one idea can lead to a snowball effect, making things happen that you never imaged would. Mother Teresa Regional School, where I coach hockey and teach the Civil War elective, is having a fundraising event to support the American Red Cross for hurricane relief in our immediate area. The school, which is located in Atlantic Highlands, has many students from nearby towns that were effected by Hurricane Irene a few weeks ago, and this is our way of giving back to the community. Originally, we were just going to have a special Saturday night event for our regular hockey games, but then I made the suggestion that we should charge a dollar or two and donate it. From there it took off, and Vinny and Ann Margret Duminski began to work the phones, and now, we have this massive event planned for Saturday night, September 24, from 4-8:30pm.
The New Jersey Devils, who sponsor our league, are kind enough to send us former player Jim Dowd for an autograph session, as well as donations of autographed sticks of Martin Brodeur and Zach Parise for us to put up for auction. They are also bringing pucks, posters, magnets, and pre-season tickets against the Islanders and Flyers for a free giveaway, and the team’s mascot will be on-hand for entertainment and photo-ops. However, other local businesses have stepped up to the plate. When we asked if we could leave a flier, they not only allowed us to do so, but offered donations of gift items. Below is our current list of available prizes. A decision has not been made in regards to what will be auctioned and what will be door prizes, but these are some great items! We are currently in talks with other local restaurants and businesses, and hope to have an updated list by Saturday night with even more (it’s been updated three times already since I published this, so there is definitely hope for more!):
New Jersey Devils (Newark)
- Jim Dowd autograph session
- Martin Brodeur autographed hockey stick
- Zach Parise autographed hockey puck
- Pre-Season tickets to games on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1
- Pucks, posters, and magnets
Park East Bar and Restaurant (Hazlet)
- $50 gift certificate
The Wine Bar (Atlantic Highlands)
- $25 gift certificate
Tab Ramos Sports Center (Aberdeen)
- Two $50 gift certificates
Denino’s Pizza Place (Aberdeen)
- $25 gift certificate
The Hobby Shop (Aberdeen)
- $25 gift certificate
Eli’s Hot Bagels (Aberdeen)
- Certificate for a dozen bagels
Pinebelt Nissan (Keyport)
- Certificate for one auto detail service
Angela’s Pizza (Hazlet)
- Certificate for two large plain pies
Shore Cafe (Hazlet)
- $30 gift certificate
We also have a lot of fun events planned, including some that will give participants a chance to win prizes. There will be a skills competition as well as a “Score-O” contest. Later on in the evening, the teachers and older students will play against each other in a game. Other games, broken down by age level, will be scheduled throughout the night.
How you can help: We invite anyone and everyone to come on down and participate in this fun night. Adult admission is $2 and children are $1. Every single dollar earned that night will be donated, so your attendance and participation will help us as it is! If you own a local business or restaurant and would like to donate a gift card, no amount is too small, and please contact me at email@example.com or Vinny Duminski at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you cannot make it, and would like to send a donation, please make the check payable to the American Red Cross, and send to:
Mother Teresa Regional School
55 South Avenue
Alantic Highlands, NJ 07716
Thank you very much, and have a great day!
This morning, it was Tweeted by Larry Brooks of the NY Post that it will be the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers facing off in the 2012 NHL Winter Classic. The game will be played in the City of Brotherly Love, but to my knowledge, the venue is still not know. Rumors had been circulating about this matchup for months, but now it has been confirmed. This will be the Flyers’ second showing in the popular New Year’s Day game, that will actually be played on January 2nd this year. They took on the Boston Bruins in the 2010 game that was played at Fenway Park.
Though I suppose most people wanted to see the New Jersey Devils or New York Islanders in there, a game involving the Rangers on this stage needs a team that is actually relevant to the league and has a fan base. The Flyers will bring that, and perhaps the rivalry between these two teams is even greater than the ones against the Devils and Islanders at this time. The Rangers make sense being in here, and probably should have been used earlier. No matter how successful they are, New York is always an attractive market, and it is a shame that they could not have the game at Yankee Stadium or Citi Field, because this event needs the lights of New York City.
Nevertheless, we got what we all wanted here, as this is sure to be an intense matchup. But that is not all. The Rangers and Flyers will also be participating in the acclaimed series 24/7, which began last year on HBO, and went behind the scenes into the daily and gamely lives of the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins. The show was a smash-hit, made even more so by a certain profane tirade by Capitals’ coach Bruce Boudreau. With John Tortorella, and presumably Sean Avery, if he is still on the team, for the Rangers, and the slew of enforcers under the helm of hot-tempered coach Peter Laviolette, this should make for some good entertainment. I suppose I will have to order HBO now; combine this with To Appomattox that is supposed to be out next year, and this channel is going to have some nice programming.
One last item regarding 24/7, and that is how shocked I am that the Rangers are actually involving themselves with this. It is well known that their PR department are a bunch of control freaks who like to present a pristine image to the hockey world, and this series could put a damper on that. I would not be shocked if they ask the production team to censor certain parts. Not trying to be negative here, but it’s the Rangers so who knows…
These last few days have provided horrific flashbacks to last season for fans of the New York Rangers, because just like last year, the Rangers had their fate in their own hands. In game 81, the Rangers needed to win the two final games of the season, both against the Philadelphia Flyers, and they were able to accomplish only half of that. With their final home game just two days before the season finale, the Rangers came through in the clutch, with a hard-fought 4-3 win that had Madison Square Garden rocking, giving a resounding cheer for the Blueshirts who then had to travel to the City of Brotherly Love to clinch a playoff berth. The scorer of the game-winning goal? Marian Gaborik, capping off a fantastic debut season on Broadway. Then the last day came, and after another well-played game that headed to a shootout, the entire Rangers’ season rested on the shoulders of Olli Jokinen, who flubbed the chance, and sent them home packing, without a playoff appearance for the first time since the lockout. Two games were all they had, two wins were all they needed.
This season, the Rangers had three games remaining, and found themselves trailing the Boston Bruins 3-0 in the second period of a game on April 4th. The crowd booed, and rightly so, but then the Rangers woke up, and scored five unanswered goals against one of the best defensive teams in the NHL to keep the season alive, but not only that, to keep it in their hands. This is more important than anything, because when you have control of your fate, all you have to do, as a team, is win. You do not have to scoreboard watch or hope for help from others. Unfortunately, last night, the Rangers ruined those chances against the 11th place Atlanta Thrashers. All they needed was a win, to get two points, and they failed miserably. There was no aggressive forecheck, no glaring scoring chances, just all around stagnant play. When the Thrashers exited the building with a 3-0 win, you can be sure that visions of last season were floating around the locker room. There is only one difference: the Rangers are not in control of their fate anymore.
Should the Carolina Hurricanes win their next two games in regulation, the Rangers season is over, even if they win tomorrow afternoon against the New Jersey Devils. There are also a bunch of other scenarios, but I will not waste time going into them because all of it should have been for naught anyway. There was no reason for this, the Rangers needed to win last night, and they failed. Just like last season, coming 0ff their biggest win of the season, they fell flat, and that will cost them.
There is no place to direct anger at, if the Rangers fall short, other than the team itself. Part of me says not to get angry, because this is a rebuilding year. The other part of me says, this team was in playoff contention all year long, has the highest paid goaltender in the league, and another $7 million goal scorer, so of course I will be angry if they come up short.
Just think, what if Lundqvist had not let in a slew of soft goals early in the season? What if Alex Frolov actually produced after signing here? What if Vinny Prospal wasn’t injured for most of the season? What if Martin Biron did not suffer a late-season practice injury? What if Sean Avery was just half as good as he was a couple of seasons ago? What if Marian Gaborik actually played like he gives a shit?
That is probably the most important of these “What if?” questions, and that is what happened to Marian Gaborik? He goes through months of being invisible, has a big game and gets everyone excited, only to disappear again. Well, Marian the Magnificent has now gone eight straight games without scoring a goal, and he only has 22 in 61 games, which equates to about a goal every three games, as opposed to last season when he averaged a goal per less than every two games. It might not seem like much, but in the long-run, they add up. It is one thing to slump, but it is another to just fall off the map and not care, which is where Gaborik is right now—skating around in circles, shooting from the perimeter, and just coasting. On the bright side, he may be due for an explosion tomorrow, since that’s what he does. After all, he hasn’t scored since March 20.
The Rangers powerplay is also to blame, even with the acquisition of Bryan McCabe who has only two goals and six assists in 18 games. After seeing him QB the powerplay, I am convinced that he is not the problem. He is not a bad player, in fact, he is the most skilled player out there who happens to be surrounded by players who are not on his level of thinking. His passes are hard, his shots are even harder, but when is someone ever in a position to do something with them? Take last night for example, with McCabe on the point and Gaborik in the right faceoff circle. McCabe released a hard fake-shot pass right to Gaborik, but the puck bounced over his stick. How is it that a player as skilled as he cannot handle a simple pass? Did he forget how to play hockey all of a sudden? Does Tortorella need to hold a fundamentals practice? These idiots skate around trying to make plays, the puck goes to McCabe, and when he passes it back, they seem like they have never seen that shiny, black, rubber disc before—it’s like they are shocked.
The shining of all examples of this ineptitude of course came on March 31 against the New York Islanders, in a game they had to win. To be honest, I don’t think anything thought the Rangers were going to lose that game, especially since they always play well on Long Island. The Rangers took a 1-0 lead despite playing sloppily, but then they somehow managed to give up six straight goals before adding one late, to fall 6-2 in their most embarrassing performance of recent memory. The killer in this one? Going a mind-numbing 0-9 on the powerplay. That’s almost the equivalent of spending an entire period with the man-advantage, only to score zero goals.
No matter what happens in these next two days, the Rangers can look at that matchup against the Islanders and say that is what did them in. For the second straight season, the Rangers can get eliminated by a division rival; first the Flyers, now the Devils (which is worse?). Even if they do lose tomorrow, the Rangers can still get in if the Hurricanes lose their last two games, but I would not count on it. Carolina is playing well and actually deserves to make the playoffs. The Rangers deserve absolutely nothing.
The Rangers just have to go out there and win tomorrow, then pray for some divine intervention. I can see the Rangers winning tomorrow, even though the Devils are going to come out firing on all cylinders since this is their playoff game this season, but what I cannot see is the Hurricanes losing their next two games. Either way, it is out of our hands. This season will be known as the one that got away, it’s that simple.
In the fourth and final meeting of the season between the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens, the Blueshirts finally were able to break through with a victory and end a drought against the Habs that extended back to last season. Tonight’s game featured the exact hockey one would expect in a game down the stretch, between two teams fighting for a playoff berth. There was aggression, intensity, and goal scoring, and the Rangers would ultimately walk away with a 6-3 win after a hard fought 60 minutes.
- First period: The game got off to a hot start rather early, when just one second in, Brandon Prust squared off with Travis Moen in what would be a fairly lengthy bout. About five and a half minutes in, Artem Anisimov would get the Rangers on the board with an unassisted breakaway goal, but less than two minutes later, the Canadiens would rally to tie it on a slap shot goal by P.K Subban in the slot, this coming before he and Prust would serve minors after Subban yanked Prust to the ice when he made contact with goaltender Carey Price. But the most disheartening aspect about the Canadiens’ goal was the “Ole Ole” chant in the building, offered up by the sea of opposing fans that made their way into the Garden tonight. I have no problem with fans of other teams traveling distances to show their support, but it is unfortunate that the Rangers fans would let that noise happen. I remember a time when it was dangerous for an opposing fan to even wear a jersey, let alone chant, in our home building, but times have changed, and the Dolan’s are getting what they want: an arena packed with corporate suits. Anyway, the Rangers would very shortly shut up the Canadiens’ fans with a barrage of goals. Near the midway point, Dan Girardi would score on assists from Christensen and Zuccarello, and then with less than three minutes remaining, Ryan Callahan would score the oddest goal of the season—with a tangle of players in front of the net, Callahan swiped at a bouncing puck which sent it upwards off the helmet of defenseman James Wisniewski, then higher into the air, when it would fall straight down and cross the goal line in mid-air. However, the backspin on the puck caused it to not land in the net, but a lengthy review would prove that the entire puck crossed the line. With the Canadiens tased, Gaborik scored 32 seconds after that, and then Brian Boyle added a fifth goal 37 seconds later, for a total of three goals in just 1:07. Price would then be yanked and replaced with Ranger-killer Alex Auld. The Rangers would leave the period with a 5-1 lead, perhaps the most exciting and well-played period of the season.
- Second period: At first, the middle frame seemed relatively calm compared to the first. Aside from an early goal by Wisniewski, to get the Canadiens within three, nothing major happened until the end. Both Lundqvist and Auld were solid, but then with exactly three minutes to go, Subban would knock down Lundqvist and cause Michael Sauer to chase him halfway across the rink to challenge him to a fight. Sauer wanted to drop the gloves immediately, but the Canadiens’ brute defenseman ran away like the fraud he is. Magnetic personality be damned, Subban is nothing more than a glorified thug, who already slew-footed Dubinsky earlier in the season (a play that went uncalled) while being in the center of other questionable plays around the league. He’s a fine offensive defenseman, but the edge he walks is very dangerous, and I was hoping that someone would knock him down onto the ice by the time the game was over (maybe he would have been if the refs didn’t jump in to stop the fight). The Rangers would still be up 5-2 heading into the third.
- Third period: Once again, the Canadiens would strike, with a powerplay goal under a minute in from Brian Gionta. Flashbacks from two years ago when the Rangers blew a 5-0 lead were beginning to creep in my head, but thankfully the Rangers would hunker down and not let this one get away. After Lundqvist was ran yet again, this time accidentally, the Rangers would capitalize on the powerplay when Vinny Prospal deflected a hard Girardi pass to beat Auld. The Rangers would go on to win 6-3, but there is some concern for Lundqvist, who remained down on the ice for a few minutes after being hit. When the game ended, rather than celebrate, he pushed his teammates away so they would not tap him on the head, showing an apparent neck injury. We can only hope it is not serious.
The Rangers really stepped up in another big home game tonight to beat a team where wins against them have seemed elusive. The team should be happy about the win, but Lundqvist is injured and that may really effect the team in the long run, if it is not a hyper-extended muscle, and something more serious. Hopefully we will know by later tonight or tomorrow if he will start against the Penguins on Sunday. Lundqvist also continued to set a record he already owns, by winning 30 games in a season six times in a row, a record he set last season with five.
It was also good to see Rangers fans answer back with some “Ole” chants of their own late in the game. Tonight’s game had a very good intensity, that was only escalated by the presence of so many opposing fans. If every game could be this loud, it would be a real treat.
This game also proved that the Rangers do not need Sean Avery any longer. Not that Wolski did anything that stood out, but I did not once think tonight that Avery could have been useful in any of the situations that unfolded. He is clearly out of his element, and with the way he played in the game prior against the Islanders, I do not see how he fits in the rest of the way.
Finally, I was really hoping the Rangers would score at least one goal on Alex Auld, the perennial backup who always seems to kill the Rangers. He really was excellent yet again, keeping his team in it, but the Rangers got him for one at the end. I don’t know if it is just coincidence, but he always plays exceptionally well on Broadway. The Rangers will now head to Pittsburgh for one of those annoying 12:30 afternoon starts on Sunday. I am already prepared for the broadcast bias that follows every nationally televised Rangers game, the same bias that led Pierre McGuire on TSN to say tonight how Subban isn’t afraid of a fight…which is why he ran for dear life when Sauer chased after him.
Sorry for such a boring, generic title, but I’m running low on New York Post back page cheese this morning. I also apologize for having to bring back the Marian Gaborik milk carton, which was actually quite popular a few weeks ago, but now, it is just angering, especially when you consider he had no shots on goal in last night’s debacle against the New Jersey Devils. I had created it in the midst of one of Gaborik’s (many) funks this current season, after which, he scored four goals against the Toronto Maple Leafs on January 19, prompting me to put a giant “FOUND” stamp over the front of the carton. But once again, Marian the Magnificent has disappeared after a hat trick, something he has done three times this season.
When I say “disappear” or “struggles” I am only referring to the goal scoring department, because he has a decent number of assists, but the Rangers aren’t paying him for assists, and they are not helping the team to win. The fact that he has more of them than goals this season only shows how deeply he has truly struggled. Yes, he missed some time early in the season, which could account for him being thrown off his stride, but he has been back for quite some time now, and for a player that never had a decent center for his entire career, he cannot blame this subpar campaign on that, because with a career winger as his center last year, he still found a way to put up 42 goals.
In 46 games this season, he has only 17 goals, but 10 of those goals have come in only three games: the hat tricks against the Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders, and the four goal performance recently against the Maple Leafs. That leaves him with an eye-opening seven goals in 43 games. Is that superstar material? Each time he has looked to bust out of a slump, he has fallen right back in. He had zero goals before his first hat trick, then went the next eight after it scoring only two. His second hat trick would break the mini-stretch of games, but in the 19 games following that, he would score only three goals. His four goal game against the Leafs at last seemed to be the end of this stagnant season, but it only proved to equate to his previous two outbursts, as he has two goals in twelve games since.
The New York Rangers need to do something, anything, to get this team back to where they were playing earlier. The team was expected to lack consistency, because of the amount of youth, but Marian Gaborik is no youngster, he should not be having this problem, or at least, not as drastically as he has been. If the New York Rangers cannot get Brad Richards from Dallas, something I really believe they will not be doing before free agency, then they must trade Marian Gaborik, it is that simple. He has not even looked good during his slumps—sometimes players will play well but just catch bad breaks—but he has not shown that explosive speed (or “powerful stride” as Joe Micheletti would call it) nor has he shown that devastating wrist shot except once or twice, when it was something we were used to seeing on a regular basis last year.
But who could the Rangers trade him to? Not only must a team be interested, but they must have the cap space to be able to take him, if they can’t send a star player back the other way. If the Rangers package Gaborik with another player, than perhaps a trade for Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings would not be out of the question. The Kings were rumored to have a heavy interest in Gaborik during the off-season, and if you were to add Gaborik to a very good lineup that already has a budding young star in Anze Kopitar, the team could take off, if a change of scenery would actually do him any good. I am not so sure if the Kings would trade away their captain, but then again, crazier things have happened.
If it was up to me, I would trade him for just some draft picks and a top prospect or two, but that could really set the Rangers back further as they would have no superstar in the franchise, either proven or potential, unless they want to wait for free agency, a term that should make all of us cringe. Perhaps the Rangers can even try to trade for Brad Richardson on Los Angeles, because his name looks similar to the coveted star they seek (I’m only kidding).
The Rangers need to do something here because this is not a slump Gaborik is in. He looks disinterested, which usually marks the end of one’s tenure with a particular organization. John Tortorella can only change the lines so many times before he must realize that nothing can be done to jump-start him. It was reported on NHL.Com a few weeks ago that “Sather would listen to offers for Gaborik”. Well, let’s see if he becomes a little more serious and starts talking trade, because if they don’t act soon, this team will be out of the playoff picture before you know it.