Is Marian Gaborik To Blame for the New York Rangers' Scoring Problems?

Tonight's Healthy ScratchesCorrespondent IMarch 9, 2010

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 30:  Marian Gaborik #10 of the New York Rangers during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Arena on January 30, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Coyotes defeated the Rangers 3-2.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Yes, you just read that correctly. No, it's not what you think.

While reading Newsday yesterday—yes, newspapers still exist and people still read them—I came across an interesting stat: The Rangers scored 16 goals in Gaborik's four-game absence, and only one during the two since his return.

Now I'm not saying that Gaborik is to blame because he's not putting the puck in the net. What I think is happening is that the players surrounding him are so accustomed to him scoring that they are playing with less assertiveness in the offensive zone.

Besides his freak injury in practice with the leg laceration, and the time he missed with a lower-body injury following the Olympics, Gaborik has had a pretty healthy first year in New York.

He's pretty much been producing the way we all knew he could, with a dry spell here and there. There's no way to say that he's not holding up his end of the bargain.

While Gaborik was on the shelf, nine different Rangers helped pitch in for those 16 goals. Chris Drury, Sean Avery, Ryan Callahan, Vinny Prospal, and Erik Christensen all scored two goals, while Brandon Dubinsky netted three.

The problem is, when he is on one of those dry spells, which all players go through, nobody else steps up.

Gaborik hasn't scored a goal since a 3-1 victory over the Devils on Feb. 6.

When was Gaborik's last drought, you ask? From Jan. 21-27 he went pointless. During that stretch, the Rangers played four games: three goals, four losses, twice shutout.

It's no secret that the Rangers lack serious secondary scoring. But when Gaborik isn't in the lineup, it's as if the Rangers magically have a new-found element of scoring.

This can't be a coincidence.

By no means am I saying that Gaborik shouldn't be playing, but it's up to the coaching staff and the veteran leadership on this team to motivate these players the same way that they are when No. 10 isn't dressed.

It's almost as if they have a feeling that it's okay if they don't finish, or make that extra effort on a play when Gaborik is out there, because, after all, he's Marian Gaborik and will put the team on his shoulders.

We saw the same thing with Jaromir Jagr. When he wasn't producing, the Rangers might as well have not even come out on the ice.

It's not a matter of having the secondary scoring, it's using them to their full potential. 

It's not like Capitals, Penguins, Sharks, and Blackhawks where they are four or five deep in potent scoring options. The Rangers need to grind their way into every opportunity they get.

If the Rangers want any success either now or in the future, they must take some of the pressure of Gaborik and play the way they do when he doesn't take the ice.