So this is what the Rangers were missing the last few seasons.
It was supposed to be Jaromir Jagr, but he was never the same after his shoulder was dislocated in the 2006 playoffs. And Scott Gomez never clicked with anyone he played with on his line.
Chris Drury was supposed to be clutch, but the drain of being a sniper was never his forte.
The Rangers needed a scorer. Everyone knew it. And it took a couple of years for general manager Glen Sather to find one.
And now Marian Gaborik is paying instant dividends.
Take last night’s 4-3 win in Washington. After Washington tied the game on a very bad let-in by Henrik Lundqvist and then went ahead on a power play goal, the Blueshirts looked sunk.
But enter Gaborik, the play-maker, who scored two to give the Rangers two – points, that is.
“That’s what makes players like him so special,” Drury said, as reported by Newsday. “They can change the game on one shot and they can win a game on two plays and two shots.”
Those two shots came almost immediately. Just 18 seconds after the Capitals went up on Niklas Backstom’s tally, Gaborik came in with slap shot past Jose Theodore. And then beat the Washington netminder 2:33 later with the gamewinner.
“That’s a goal-scorer for you,” Henrik Lundqvist said to reporters. “That’s why we signed him.
“I owe him dinner”
Many heads shook when the Rangers dished out $37.5 million over five years for the oft-injured Wild star. Was this just another Blueshirt blunder or could Gaborik become the player the team craved.
“I don’t think he was playing all that great up until that point, but that’s the difference when you have this type of player, a gamebreaker – at a key time he ends up producing,” said coach John Tortorella to reporters. “That’s what he has to be about.”
Sure it’s only been four games into the season, but Gaborik looks right at home on Broadway. His skills have translated into Tortorella’s system and has paid immediate dividends.
Yet, his health is still a concern. The Rangers were smart to keep him out the first week of camp, just in case and then used him sparingly in the games he did play. Now the 27 year-old looks like he’s on his way to his best season, after missing most of 2008-09 with a hip injury.
And with that type of top line, Lundqvist can make all the mistakes he wants, because he knows, that Garborik will be there to back him up.