Marian Gaborik Must Step Up After New York Rangers Lose Brandon Dubinsky

Sean Hartnett@HartnettWFANCorrespondent IJanuary 19, 2011

Gaborik must find the sort of form he displayed last season to ensure a Rangers' playoff berth.
Gaborik must find the sort of form he displayed last season to ensure a Rangers' playoff berth.Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The New York Rangers are set to be without their leading offensive contributor in forward Brandon Dubinsky who will miss three to four weeks after fracturing his left tibia.  Dubinsky has been the Rangers' top point-getter this season at 38 and leads the team in both goals (17) and assists (21.)

His absence will leave head coach John Tortorella short of production especially as winger Alexander Frolov will miss the rest of the season due to ACL surgery. Right-winger Ryan Callahan is still recovering from a broken hand and could make an early February return, but until then Tortorella must figure out how to get his team firing.

Tortorella benched star winger Marian Gaborik during the second period of Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia and firmly pointed the finger at his slumping sniper. "We need production, I'll leave it at that. We've got guys grinding their butt off. We need some of our skill guys to score a goal for us," an enraged Tortorella demanded during Sunday's postgame press conference.

It's now time for Gaborik to step up and fill the void left by Dubinsky's affliction. Recently acquired left-winger Wojtek Wolski could help shoulder some of that responsibility and young guns Derek Stephan and Mats Zuccarello have been pleasant surprises thus far.

Still, all eyes will be on Gaborik, who carried the Blueshirts last season as Rangers fans demand more from their Slovakian ace. New York has played inconsistently of late, especially on the offensive end, and a resurgence from Gaborik would go a long way toward maintaining their hopes of a playoff berth.

The Rangers narrowly missed out on making the playoffs in 2009-10 and were unfortunately eliminated in a shootout away to Philadelphia in their final game that season. If another close call is to be avoided, some of the Rangers' veterans must step up their game and play the sort of hockey they're capable of or the Blueshirts could suffer a similar fate.

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