Marian Gaborik, Dwayne Roloson

Rangers Marian Gaborik and Ryan McDonagh will play against Flyers today

As Joe points out, a drop in offensive output is one of the big reasons why the New York Rangers are slipping from a comfortable stroll toward an Eastern Conference lower seed to a tough fight with bubble teams for one of the last two spots. They’re still in their familiar seventh position, but with 72 points in 67 games played, they’re only one point ahead of the eighth place Carolina Hurricanes and two ahead of the hard-charging Buffalo Sabres. When you consider the fact that Carolina holds a game in hand and Buffalo has three more games remaining, the Rangers don’t exactly have a lot of time to find their punch.

Luckily, the team “found” its greatest sniper again, as Jesse Spector reports that Marian Gaborik (along with defenseman Ryan McDonagh) will play in today’s NBC Game of the Week against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Gaborik has been out of action since February 20th. The injury prone player’s most recent ailment has been a concussion. Although he was actually in coach John Tortorella’s doghouse at times this season, Gaborik scored nine points in nine games from January 24th to February 17th. He might not have the substantial grit of a Ryan Callahan or the all-around skills of Brandon Dubinsky, but no Rangers forward shares his ceiling offensively. The Rangers need a healthy, focused Gaborik to retain their playoff spot, so it must be thrilling for fans to hear that he’s “all in.”

McDonagh might not have the kind of splashy impact Gaborik does (the defenseman has zero goals and five assists in 25 games played this season), but he’s been getting substantial ice time as of late. He received between 23 and 24:55 time on ice in four of five games before getting banged up on March 3rd. It’s clear that Tortorella’s trust of the 12th overall pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft is increasing as the playoffs approach, a flattering sign of trust for a 21-year-old blueliner.

In other words, if both players can approach their full-strength abilities, they’ll be huge additions to the lineup. It’ll be interesting to see if the desperate Rangers can beat the struggling Flyers this afternoon at 12:30pm ET.

Preds still haven’t found their scoring touch

Mike Fisher
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The Nashville Predators got off to a relatively good start this season, but something seems to have happened to their offense over the last six games.

Prior to Nov. 20, the Preds had only been shut out once in their first 17 games. Since then, they’ve been blanked three times and have just six goals in their last six contests.

If you remove Mike Fisher from the equation, the numbers are even more dreadful.

Fisher’s scored three of those six goals, while Filip Forsberg, Shea Weber, James Neal and Mike Ribeiro have none.

After Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Buffalo , here’s what coach Peter Laviolette told the Tennessean: “I thought we could’ve had more gas, to be honest with you. The energy just wasn’t there; maybe the second period had something to do with that or the road trip, which was a long trip. I’m not making any excuses, but I think when we play at a higher tempo that’s when we’re at our best, and we had more to push in that area tonight.”

The first game back home after a long road trip is typically a difficult one for most teams, so we’ll see how the Predators respond on Tuesday night when they host Arizona.

A month to remember: Duchene lighting it up in November

Matt Duchene, Nick Holden
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It wasn’t too long ago that a report surfaced saying that the Avalanche were willing to listen to offers on forward Matt Duchene.

When a player’s struggling and rumors start swirling, one of two things tends to happen.

Either the player involved lets it affect his on-ice performance in a negative way or he’s motivated by the trade talk and turns his struggles around.

Instead of pouting, the 24-year-old rolled up his sleeves and got to work.

In October, Duchene scored a goal and an assist in 10 games, but things changed in a hurry when November rolled around.

The Avs forward has picked up at least one point in 11 of 13 games this month.

Duchene has 11 goals and nine assists in November and he still has a game to go before the calendar flips to December.

“Obviously, things completely flip-flopped,” Duchene told the Denver Post. “That’s the coldest start I’ve ever had and things are good right now. Obviously, I know it could go right back, I could go cold again, that’s just the nature of the game. You just have to work every day to keep it going. The most important thing is to be able to provide offense and help the team win.”

PHT Morning Skate: A bride can have her burger and eat it too

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

A woman in a wedding dress was caught eating a burger during Saturday’s game between the Stars and Wild. (Above)

Team Europe has a number of quality goaltending options to chose from ahead of next fall’s World Cup of Hockey. (

Watch as some players on Nashville’s roster try to guess the lyrics to different country songs:

Former goaltender Eddie Johnston sits down for a Q & A with’s Shelly Anderson. (ESPN)

Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher got into a “Twitter war” with former NHLer Jim Kyte. (Puck Daddy)

Oilers defenseman Andrew Ference made a generous donation to a Syrian refugee fund. (Huffington Post)

Julien explains comments about Lundqvist’s ‘acting’

Claude Julien

We’re now over two days removed from last Friday’s tilt between the Bruins and the Rangers, but the coaches from both teams seem unwilling to move on.

Moments after that game, Claude Julien claimed that Henrik Lundqvist did some “acting” on the ice to sell a goalie interference call on Brad Marchand.

On Saturday, Alain Vigneault fired back by saying that Julien needed to get his eyesight checked. Vigneault also compared Aaron Rome’s hit on Nathan Horton in the 2011 Stanley Cup final to Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan in Friday’s game.

Now it was Julien’s turn to address the “issue” at hand.

Julien clarified his original comment about Lundqvist and he also tackled some of Vigneault’s comments.

“I think it’s pretty obvious what I said . . . I thought Lundqvist sold it,” said Julien. “Not for a second did I ever question Henrik Lundqvist as a person, or a goaltender or any of that. We all know how good he is as a goaltender, and I know he’s a good person. I’ve met him at the All-Star games and all that stuff.

Julien on his eyesight: “As far as my eyes, I’m not the one that compared Beleskey’s hit to Aaron Rome’s [hit]. We’ll just leave it at that.”

It’s time for both sides to move on.