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.
Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York tells us that the Rangers slumping offense needed a jump in their game tonight and benching Gaborik was the message he needed to send that lax play won’t stand.
“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.