Friday, May 18, 2012
Gaborik: 'I need to be better'
By Matt Ehalt
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Rangers forward Marian Gaborik isn't worrying about his third-period benching in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Gaborik sat nearly the entire third period after a costly gaffe led to the Devils' game-tying goal in their eventual 3-2 win.
"I don't want to talk about it," Gaborik said Friday, as the Rangers prepared to face the Devils on Saturday afternoon. "It happened. I'm going to focus on tomorrow night's game. So is everybody else, and we need to be better and I need to be better and that's the bottom line."
With the Rangers leading 2-1 in the second period Wednesday, Gaborik failed to clear the puck and the Devils turned it into a game-tying goal. The Devils later scored in the third to win the game and even the series at 1-1.
"It was what it was," Gaborik said. "I have to do a better job there on the second goal. That's their strength and we need to be better there and win those battles."
Gaborik, the Rangers' highest-paid player, has four goals and six assists during the playoffs but has not produced like he did during the regular season, when he scored 41 goals and tallied 35 assists. He has not tallied a point against the Devils and has a plus-minus rating of minus-1 in each game.
Rangers coach John Tortorella said on a conference call Thursday that he makes lineup adjustments he feels will help the team win. Gaborik did not play for the final 1:29 when the Rangers pulled goalie Henrik Lundqvist to try to score the game-tying goal.
Tortorella added that the loss was not because of Gaborik's play.
"I think you're trying to put players in situations that are going to try to help you win games or help you in certain situations and momentum swings," Tortorella said. "Some guys, when you don't think it's working, they don't see the ice or they don't get the minutes.
"Those are decisions we make every games. You guys like calling them benchings and all that stuff, and as coaches we are trying to find a way to win hockey games and we make decisions accordingly."
Teammate Brad Richards, who plays on the same line as Gaborik, said every player has the same accountability and expects Gaborik to have a great game against the Devils. Gaborik last scored a goal in Game 6 of the semifinals against the Capitals.
"He'll be fine," Richards said. "He takes that stuff to heart and you expect him to be one of the better players tomorrow. That's the way it has been in this locker room all year."
If his brief interview Friday was any indication, it does not appear that Gaborik is going to let his benching bring him down.
"It's a series," Gaborik said. "I've been in that situation before and we all learn and just have to learn from it and make sure I do a better job. It goes for everybody."