Sending a message? Marian Gaborik benched during Rangers 3-2 loss to Philadelphia

The Rangers offense has struggled a lot of late and in their last couple of games, a lot has been asked of their offense as the Rangers have had a hard time keeping teams off the board early. Tonight was no different as the Flyers jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Rangers were able to score. One player that wasn’t factoring into those goals was superstar winger Marian Gaborik.

Gaborik was benched in the second period and played just 2:25 of the period. Overall he finished with just 12:45 played in the game, a whopping 6:21 shy of his season average in time played. If you’re thinking that Rangers coach John Tortorella was sending a message to Gaborik (and perhaps the rest of the team) you’d be right.

Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York tells us that the Rangers slumping offense needed a jump in their game tonight and benching Gaborik was the message he needed to send that lax play won’t stand.

“It’s just we need production. I’ll leave it at that,” Tortorella said after Gaborik took just two shots and was a minus-1 in the Rangers’ 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden. “We need production from him. We’ve got guys in there grinding their asses off and developing scoring chances. We need some of our skill guys to score a goal for us.”

Compare Gaborik’s time on ice tonight with a handful of other Rangers you might not expect to play as much as they did. Brian Boyle played 19:23, Mats Zuccarello played 17:50, and newcomer Wojtek Wolski played 16:40. For Gaborik, easily the Rangers top offensive threat, playing just over 12 minutes is surprising. Given that the Rangers third period comeback came thanks to the line of Wolski, Zuccarello  and Derek Stepan it’s not surprising they had as much time as they did.

Still, if a 40-goal scorer isn’t seeing the ice on the power play or in crunch time late, there’s a problem. With Gaborik struggling all season to consistently score you have to wonder if he’s having trouble dealing with coach Tortorella this year. Everyone has slumps, but Gaborik’s has been going all season long as he’s just fourth on the team in goals with 11.

The Rangers are doing well this season in spite of Gaborik’s inability to score, but if they’re to do any damage in the playoffs they’ll need Gaborik’s goals. Right now, they’re not coming at all and you wonder when they’ll start happening if at all this year.

Benn, Holtby and Galchenyuk are NHL’s three stars of the week

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Stars winger Jamie Benn, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and Canadiens center Alex Galchenyuk have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.

From NHL.com:

Benn shared the League lead in goals (4) and points (6) as the Stars (19-5-0, 38 points) won two of three games to continue their best start to a season in the franchise’s 48-year history.

Holtby posted a 4-0-0 record with a 1.75 goals-against average, .945 save percentage and one shutout to backstop the Capitals (17-5-1, 35 points) to the top of the Metropolitan Division standings.

Galchenyuk tied for first in the NHL with four goals and added one assist to help the Canadiens (18-4-3, 39 points) earn five of a possible six points and reclaim first place in the League standings.

As much as the injuries to Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher have been frustrating for the Canadiens, those are short-term issues that should be forgotten soon enough. Galchenyuk’s play, in contrast, is reason for long-term optimism. The 21-year-old is trending towards becoming the elite No. 1 center the Habs have needed so badly. He’s not there yet, but when’s all said and done, he could turn out to be the best forward (or player, period) taken in the 2012 draft.

Stepan to miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs


Derek Stepan is out 4-6 weeks with broken ribs, the New York Rangers announced today.

Stepan was hurt Friday on a controversial hit by Boston’s Matt Beleskey. The Bruins’ forward did not receive any supplemental discipline for the check, despite admitting it was “maybe…a little bit late.”

At any rate it’s a big loss for the Rangers, who suddenly find themselves on a three-game losing streak. Considering the timeline, New York could be without one of its top centers for 12-18 games, give or take.

The Rangers host Carolina tonight.

Related: Yep, Alain Vigneault went there — ‘I remember Aaron Rome in this building’

Price to miss minimum six weeks, so no Winter Classic for him

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Carey Price will miss a minimum of six weeks with a lower-body injury, the Montreal Canadiens announced today.

That means Price will miss the Winter Classic against the Bruins on New Year’s Day. The 28-year-old goalie has only appeared in 12 games this season.

On the bright side, the reigning Hart Trophy winner will not require surgery. And considering the Habs have already built up a 13-point playoff cushion in the standings, well, if something like this were going to happen during the season, now is as good a time as any.

Related: The latest on Price’s injury

Report: Jets offered Byfuglien for Hamonic, Isles said no

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If Travis Hamonic could choose one team to be traded to, he’d probably choose Winnipeg. The 25-year-old Islanders defenseman wants to be closer to his family, and his family is from Manitoba. Hamonic already owns a condo in Winnipeg.

So far, though, the Jets and Islanders haven’t been able to work out a deal. The Jets have three right-shot defensemen in Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba, and Tyler Myers who could, theoretically, be swapped for Hamonic, also a right shot.

“I think the Islanders were offered Byfuglien and they said no,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said this morning on Sportsnet 960 (audio), per Today’s Slapshot. “And I understand why, because Byfuglien’s got no term left.

“I think they’d love to have Trouba, but the Jets aren’t really there to do it. Myers, if it’s happened – I can’t say for sure it has or hasn’t – I’m not sure that’s the deal either team really wants to make, to be perfectly honest.”

Byfuglien is a pending unrestricted free agent who’s expected to cash in big-time on his next deal. The 30-year-old may not be the most disciplined player, but at his best, he’s an absolute force on the back end.

That the Isles reportedly said no to Byfuglien shouldn’t really come as a surprise, given his contract uncertainty. However, it does make one wonder about his future in Winnipeg. Remember that the salary cap is not expected to go up by much, and the Jets have another pending UFA in captain Andrew Ladd, plus a couple of key RFAs in Trouba and Mark Scheifele.

While it’s never easy to tell what GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is thinking, the big question with Byfuglien and the Jets may end up being when, not if, they part ways. Will it be after the season or before the Feb. 29 trade deadline?