It was just three days ago that John Tortorella benched Marian Gaborik, the New York Rangers most dynamic offensive threat in a game against the rivaled Philadelphia Flyers.
“We need production from him,” Tortorella said in his post game comments Monday.
So, it was only fitting that Gaborik rebounded Wednesday in the Rangers tilt with the Toronto Maple Leafs by putting together arguably his best offensive showing as a Ranger to date: Four goals (including two in back-to-back shifts in the second period) and an assist leading the Rangers to a 7-0 victory.
Offensive consistency has often been an issue for Gaborik, who is frequently suffering from some sort of injury (he’s missed 13 games thus far in 2010-2011), but when healthy, he’s been described as one of the most highly skilled forwards in the league and tonight he showed exactly why.
“It feels good,” said Gaborik in a post interview with CBC. “It has been a battle lately. I need to get going. It is always a big relief to get the first one. It just took off from there.”
While their star player took a big step forward with his performance last night, the news wasn’t all positive for the Rangers.
Forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Ruslan Fedetenko will each miss an extended period of playing time due to injuries. Dubinsky is likely to miss 3-4 weeks with a stress fracture in his leg and Fedetenko 2-4 weeks with a shoulder sprain that was sustained in an open ice hit with Mike Komisarek.
For the Leafs, last night apparently was supposed to mark the first of five "must win" games; however, the idea that the Leafs, who haven’t put together a longer winning streak than four games this season (they’ve done it twice) would mystically go on a tear and put together five wins in a row against four playoff teams (arguably five in Carolina) is simply nonsensical.
Leafs Goaltending Woes Continue
Jonas Gustavsson has been the pinnacle of inconsistency for the Leafs this season.
He’s been unable to put together a winning streak of more than two games and if I’m a Leaf fan, I’m getting goosebumps at the idea that "The Monster" is going to be starting in goal for the Leafs next season. He allowed six goals on just 25 shots and it’s clear that the Swede has a long way to go before he’s even considered a legitimate No. 1 goaltender.
J.S Giguere saw a little bit of action as Gustavsson was pulled in the first period after allowing three goals on 11 shots; however, Giguere didn’t fair much better, allowing one goal on just three shots before Gustavsson was back in goal to start the second period.
Giguere’s name has been thrown around in trade talks and its been said that he would provide stability and experience to a Stanley Cup contender; however, he also hasn’t proved he can perform at a high level on a consistent basis.
While at different points this season, various Leafs have shined on the scoresheet, it’s the struggle to retain any sort of offensive consistency that leaves the Leafs as one of the lowest scoring teams in the NHL.
Phil Kessel started the 2010-2011 season with seven goals in the first eight games; however, then he became nearly invisible on the scoresheet scoring just three goals in 20 games ranging from October 28th to December 9th.
The same can be said for Mikhail Grabovski, who didn’t score his first goal until the 13th game of the season and has potted 18 in the last 32 games.
The Leafs take on the Anaheim Ducks tonight and J.S Giguere is expected to get the start between the pipes.