Marian Gaborik, Mike Sullivan

Marian Gaborik tries to find chemistry, fight through tragedies

When you look at everything that has happened, it’s been a long year for New York Rangers winger Marian Gaborik. After leaving some to wonder if GM Glen Sather delivered a rare hit via free agency in 2009-10, Gaborik had a lousy 48-point campaign in 10-11.

If that wasn’t enough to make this an important summer for Gabby, he also found himself impacted by hockey’s tragic summer. Gaborik and the Rangers must attempt to put Derek Boogaard’s death behind them while the winger was so close to Pavol Demitra that Gaborik delivered a eulogy at the fallen player’s funeral on Thursday.

On top of all that, he must work hard in training camp and the preseason to foster chemistry with the Rangers’ next big free agent gamble Brad Richards. Gaborik admitted that moving on from those tragedies won’t be easy, but he believes that receiving Richards’ outstanding passes will simplify things on the ice.

“It’s been a crazy offseason,” said Gaborik, who eulogized Demitra at his funeral Thursday in Slovakia. “To see Boogie go, Pavol and a couple of other guys were lost as well — this summer has been tough, but you have to move on. Obviously I’m never going to forget these guys. I’m always going to have them in my heart, but I have to move on.”


“We skated maybe two or three times together, but you can see how [Richards] handles himself on the ice,” said Gaborik, who struggled last season with injuries and inconsistent play leading to only a 48-point season. “He’s a natural playmaker. The plays he makes, they’re just great. You know you’re going to get it on your tape. I think we’re going to get used to each other pretty quickly.”

As long as they’re both healthy,* it’s easy to imagine the two players complimenting each others’ games. The question is: who will be their common running mate at left wing? The team has plenty of options (though maybe few great ones) from a more physical player like Brandon Dubinsky to another scorer such as Wojtek Wolski. It’s likely that cast of left wingers might change considering head coach John Tortorella’s line changing tendencies.

“I know that’s going to be a hot topic along the way here, but I’m going to try different people there,” said Tortorella, who is notorious for changing up his lines often. “Is it another talented player where they just keep the puck? Is it a player that needs to go get the puck sometimes? That’s something we have to figure out along the way here and see what meshes. We’ll see how it goes.”

Personally, I think it’s ideal to keep a fair share of one-two punches together for long stretches of seasons. The salary cap era isn’t very friendly to keeping entire trios together for extended amounts of time, but two forwards getting familiar with each other seems sensible. Tortorella might be best served keeping Dubinsky with his partner in crime Ryan Callahan while pairing up Richards and Gaborik as much as possible. Maybe a Dubinsky-Richards-Gaborik line would have the highest ceiling, but there’s something to be said for having balance in your top two lines (and in general).

On paper, Richards-Gaborik could be one of the league’s deadliest combinations. Considering the amount of green paper the Rangers are spending on those two, things might get a little ugly if they can’t find chemistry.

* – Richards fought through concussion problems last season while Gaborik is one of the most injury-prone star caliber players in the NHL.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?