There are probably a lot of emotions flowing through the New York Rangers locker room right now, but one of the definite ones must be “relief.” Yet of all the players, Marian Gaborik might be the most grateful to wave goodbye to the pesky Ottawa Senators after a 2-1 Game 7 victory and 4-3 series win.
In seven games, Gaborik scored one goal and two assists for three points and a -1 rating. Those aren’t outright disastrous numbers, but for a guy who carries a $7.5 million cap hit – not to mention some of the most dazzling wheels and dangerous hands in the NHL – it’s worrisome. If the Rangers were booted tonight, he might have been fitted with the largest goat horns.
The most troubling part might not be his production. Instead, it might be the lack of assertiveness. After firing 276 shots on goal this season (about 3.37 per game), he averaged less than two shots per game in the first round (13 in seven contests). Shots on goal aren’t meant to be a Bible of confidence, yet it provides a window into a sniper’s soul more often than not.
So, the question is: can he get it together?
Looking at his split stats against the Capitals from the regular season, it doesn’t seem like a guarantee. He only managed a single goal and zero assists in four contests against Washington in 2010-11.
Much like the first seven games of the playoffs, that’s a small sample size, though. Gaborik knows as much as anyone that puck luck can be at its cruelest in the postseason. He’ll get a clean slate just like everyone else when that semifinals series starts and if he runs with it, the Rangers will be that much tougher to beat.
Do you think he’ll do it, though?
For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”
They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:
- Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
- This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
- By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.
Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).
Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.
Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.
The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.
(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)
Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)
You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:
It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.
Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:
Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).
If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.
You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.
The pain goes beyond that … literally so.
For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.
(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)
The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.
Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.
It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.
The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).
The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.
One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.