By Dubi Silverstein
It's only November 1st. There are still six months to go in the season. What's a Ranger writer supposed to write about? How many different ways are there to say that the Rangers are Marian Gaborik shooting pucks on net and Henrik Lundqvist keeping pucks out of the net?
You can flip the coin over and complain about everyone else not scoring much and everyone else not doing much to keep Lundqvist from seeing one good shot after another. Or this guy isn't get as much of chance as that guy to not do much of anything. But all of that gets old.
And it's only November 1st—six more months to go! Rarely has the situation been more cut and dried than it was during yesterday's 1-0 win over the goal starved Boston Bruins. There was Gaborik, playing on one leg after missing two games and scoring the Rangers' only goal of the game with his singular shot release.
And there was Henrik Lundqvist, still getting run over without any response from his teammates, turning aside all the shots they allowed the Bruins to get on him, including fourteen in the third period.
First star of the game, Lundqvist. Second star of the game, Gaborik. That's five times in nine wins that one of the two was the first star of the game for the Rangers, nine times one of them was a star of the game in fifteen outings.
A pair of superstars carrying the team to a record that still looks good at 9-5-1 even though this was only their second win in their last seven outings—three of those five losses transpired with either Gaborik or Lundqvist out of action, so what other outcome could one reasonably expect?
Overall, the Rangers have won only once when one of the two was out of the line-up (when Steve Valiquette shut out Anaheim) and they've lost only twice in regulation time when both were on the ice—8-2-1 with both, 1-3-0 when one was out.
That leaves six months worrying about Gaborik staying physically healthy enough to continue carrying the offense and power play, 67 more regular season games worrying about Lundqivst staying mentally healthy enough to continue carrying the defense and penalty kill.
Don't get me wrong—it's been pure pleasure watching Gaborik and Lundqvist do their thing. You get the feeling when they're both out there that the Great Gabbo is going to get you the goal you need and the King is going to make the big save that will keep the other teams from getting the goals they need.
We've had Lundqvist doing this for four-plus years, but we haven't had a game-breaker like Gaborik over the past three seasons. If they can get to the playoffs with their bodies and minds intact, they can make a difference, especially if some other guys come around.
One small thing John Tortorella might consider doing to give Gaborik some help—that guy he keeps saying was the best player for his team, at least over the past two games, Artem Anisimov? You know, the guy who drove to net, taking Zdeno Chara with him, to open up the high slot for Gaborik to score from?
Maybe Tortorella can find a way to not have him log the second lowest time on ice on the entire roster—even Brian Boyle had more ice time yesterday! For the second game in a row, Anisimov saw his ice time increase dramatically after sitting out most of the first period—maybe Tortorella should get him involved a little earlier.
Tortorella did some head-scratching over the officiating, wondering where the consistency was in the way the two teams were treated. Just a couple of days after a young player on the Kitchener Rangers suffered serious, life-threatening head injuries after being smashed into the boards from behind, the referees looked the other way when Chara mashed Ryan Callahan into the glass from behind, cutting him in the process. And that after penalizing Sean Avery for a hit from behind that was far less dangerous (if at all).