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.
“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.
Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)
Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.
Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.
McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).
The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.
They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.
The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.
Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.
The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.
The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.
Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style
It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.
Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:
Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games
This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.
The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.