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.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.
Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.
Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.
Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.
Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.
The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.
Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.
After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.
Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.
MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.
But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.
“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”
Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.
“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”
Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.
Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.
Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.
SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.
Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.
The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.
Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.
Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.