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.
Flames keep showing life, Stars stumble once again
If you think the Dallas Stars are struggling because of defense more than anything else, then you’ll make sure to keep the video above “on file.”
There Kari Lehtonen was, helpless on a 2-on-0 rush for the Calgary Flames, which Johnny Gaudreau finished with calm and ease. For some, that goal is the symbol of the Stars’ season.
Either way, it was a painful goal in the Flames’ 2-1 win against the Stars. Calgary won despite Dallas firing 30 shots on goal versus the Flames’ 20.
One team climbing, the other stumbling
With that, the Flames are now on a four-game winning streak. Since falling to 5-10-1 on Nov. 12, the Flames have gone 9-3-1 in their last 13 games, pushing them to 14-13-2 overall. Gaudreau coming back is the icing on the cake after Chad Johnson really took charge of the Flames’ top job.
During a similar span, the Stars can’t seem to get it together. Dallas stood at 6-6-3 after beating the Oilers 3-2 on Nov. 11. They’re now 10-11-6, essentially standing in place as a .500 team.
Dallas can’t seem to get momentum going, a thought that might have left them envious of the team on the other end of the ice on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, it wasn’t just about Jack Eichel vs. Connor McDavid. Instead, it was a clash between a fleet of young scorers who were in their prime, with the Buffalo Sabres coming up on top against the Edmonton Oilers.