It’s not a bad backdrop for the veteran of 19 NHL seasons.
Gaborik played 255 games with the Blueshirts between 2009 and 2013, hitting the 40-goal plateau twice and recording his career-best season in 2009-10, scoring 42 goals and adding 44 helpers for 86 points in 76 games played.
Gaborik has only played 11 games this season after starting the year on the shelf with a knee injury. Gaborik only returned to the lineup on Nov. 24, but he set two milestones in his return, hitting 400 career NHL goals and 800 career NHL points earlier this month.
Coming into Friday’s game, his stat line read 800 points in 999 NHL games.
Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers have put up gaudy stats in elimination games and Game 7 situations at Madison Square Garden, as you’ve likely seen or heard. Most obviously, they’re 7-0 in Game 7’s at MSG.
On paper, it seems like an intimidating challenge: beat the reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners (employing hockey’s biggest goaltending star) in New York City for a chance to advance to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. It’s the sort of scenario that practically breeds“Nervous Nellies.”
The Tampa Bay Lightning aren’t taking the bait, though. At least not publicly.
Former Ranger Brian Boyle had some amusing comments about giving in to the MSG “mystique.”
“Do you think I buy it? What am I doing here if I buy it? Why would I fly up from Florida if I bought it?,” Boyle said. “They’ve obviously had success in Game 7. It’s a new year. Obviously, we’re expecting their best and they’ve been good. It’s a fun place to play.”
“They’re going to have the crowd support. We’re going to try to take it away from them as quick as we can, and hopefully it’s going to be a really fun, memorable game.”
All veteran-type responses, even if most of the Lightning’s roster has never been in this spot before. Steven Stamkos was in a Game 7, and it stung for reasons that went beyond the puck he took to the face.
“Yeah, well, I remember not winning that one, so that’s tough. Don’t really remember taking the puck to the face as much as you remember losing,” Stamkos said. “That was a tough one. That was my first experience in the playoffs, and it was a great run. We’re right back in the same position right now, so I’m excited about the opportunity of having a little different result this time around. ”
Jon Cooper made a good point: yes, the Rangers are dominant in these situations, but none of those Game 7 wins came against the Lightning.
“We haven’t been a part of that history, so it doesn’t affect us,” Cooper said, via the Canadian Press. “I guess you look back and it’s an impressive feat to see what they’ve done. But they haven’t done it against our group and our team, and we’ve got a pretty young, confident group.”
Winning and not taking a puck to the mush would be quite the improvement for Stamkos & Co. (Hey, you need to set goals, right?)
Rangers’ first home win leaves only blemish on Sharks’ impressive road trip
Halloween night was shaping up to look awfully scary for the New York Rangers. After losing their belated home opener to the Toronto Maple Leafs, John Tortorella’s crew hosted the fat and happy San Jose Sharks, who were perfect in the first five contests in their six-game road trip.
Maybe there’s some symmetry to the fact that the Rangers finally showed the “hunger” to win against top-flight teams, then, as they beat the Sharks 5-2.
With a great all-around effort, the Blueshirts generated two important firsts:
1. They won their first home game of the 2011-12 season.
2. The Rangers out-shot their opponents for the first time, by a count of 31-26.
That last tidbit is far more important than the first one since this was just their third game at MSG. Even with Brad Richards in the fold, the Rangers aren’t going to be more talented than most of their playoff-caliber opponents, so that means they’ll need to outwork them like last season.
Promising signs against a tough opponent
Shots aren’t everything, but they’re often a half-decent barometer for each teams’ efforts, so it is a promising sign to see the Rangers finally win that battle. It’s even more impressive that they curtailed the Sharks’ shot-happy offense, though; San Jose came into Monday’s game averaging a league-leading 36.6 shots per game.
Weary optimism for Rangers and Sharks
Both teams should enter November with mixed feelings. The Sharks should be proud of their 5-1-0 road trip, but the bottom line is that a slow start leaves them tied for third place in the rugged Pacific Division. The Rangers got a couple monkeys off their backs, but they’re also stuck behind two strong teams in their own division.
Each team faces great opportunities to extend their solid recent work in early November. San Jose’s schedule counters with a six-game homestand while the Rangers will play three of their next four at home.
In other words, after scratching through a lot of away games, both teams now face the golden opportunity that comes with a whole lot of home cooking.
After a month straight on the road ranging from Sweden to western Canada and over 16,000 miles traveled, the New York Rangers are back home and kicking off their home opener against Toronto. Making the return home a bit different is the state that Madison Square Garden is in.
The Rangers’ home opener was delayed thanks to the renovations going at the World’s Most Famous Arena that kept the Rangers out of town. The changes inside are numerous and mostly a benefit to folks looking to drop a metric ton of cash to go to games. You can see the list of updates inside here. There’ll be more work to do next summer as well and that’s a theme that could again apply to the Rangers if they can’t get the offense going.
With New York struggling offensively and being worn out from life on the road, playing in front of what could be an ornery home crowd will truly feel just like home. Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik are the only real guys up to any good on offense and even they’ve been a bit of a let down to this point. While Henrik Lundqvist is his normal self, he’s finding out that it’s more of the same problems as his team can’t consistently support him.
That can all change in a night for New York though. Getting back on home wasn’t a luxury for the Rangers last season going just 20-17-4 on home ice. Facing off against a game Leafs team that’s getting Tim Connolly back to action and a red hot pair in Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul as well as a healthy James Reimer in goal, it sets up a potentially tough night for New York. At least they can kick their feet up and relax a bit more on home ice… Just so long as they play hard.
After a seven-game road trip that went from Europe to Long Island to Vancouver to Calgary to Edmonton to Winnipeg, with a quick stopover in Buenos Aires for some fun in the sun, the New York Rangers will finally get to play a home game Thursday at the partially-revamped Madison Square Garden.
Deadspin writer Barry Petchesky also called attention to the fact a reporter is standing on the logo, a colossal no-no according to proper locker-room protocol. If you’ve never been in an NHL dressing room, “don’t stand on the logo” is right up there with “don’t take pictures” and “don’t pretend you’re one of the players and do controversial interviews.” At the Cup final in Boston, there was a TD Garden employee whose only job was to keep reporters off the logo. No easy job, considering the Bruins’ locker room is the size of your average walk-in closet.
Anyway, Dave Lozo of NHL.com reports via Twitter that the Rangers will cover the enormous logo after games to avoid any future faux-pas. No truth to the rumor they’ll use the tarp that covers the infield at Yankee Stadium.