Rangers wish Gaborik an unhappy ending
June, 2, 2014
By Mike Mazzeo | ESPN.com
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The New York Rangers are happy for Marian Gaborik’s playoff success in L.A.
They really are.
It’s just that they’re ready for it to end.
“It’s good to see he’s got a good situation going,” one of Gaborik’s former Rangers teammates, Brad Richards, said Monday.
“But I’d like that situation obviously not to go as good these next couple weeks.”
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesFormer Ranger Marian Gaborik leads the playoffs in goals and ranks fourth in points.
That would help.
Gaborik, after all, leads all playoff scorers with 12 goals. The ex-Ranger’s 19 postseason points rank fourth in the NHL.
“He’s on fire,” Henrik Lundqvist, another former teammate, said. “He’s been playing really well. He’s played a huge part in their success. That’s why they’re here. He’s one of those guys we have to make sure we keep our focus on when he’s on the ice.”
New York’s top defensive pairing of Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi will have the daunting task of trying to shut down Gaborik and his linemates, Anze Kopitar (5-19-24) and Dustin Brown (4-8-12).
“He’s so quick and explosive, so you obviously don’t wanna give him a lot of time and space to get his speed up,” said McDonagh, the Rangers’ No. 1 defenseman. “And then obviously his quick release ... his shot. ... So if you’re in the zone and he’s popping he only needs a little time and space. You gotta make sure you have a good stick on him and try and play him hard and in his face.”
Sounds like a plan. It’s just a matter of executing it, which is easier said than done.
Remember when Gaborik signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract with the Rangers back in the summer of 2009?
It was supposed to be a big day for the franchise, landing the Slovakian Sniper.
“But things didn’t go exactly as planned. Gaborik did have two 40-goal seasons as a Blueshirt. But he was inconsistent and became a frequent target of criticism from former coach John Tortorella. In two postseasons as a Ranger, which spanned 25 games, he scored six goals.
He's on fire. He's been playing really well. He's played a huge part in their success. That's why they're here. He's one of those guys we have to make sure we keep our focus on when he's on the ice.” -- Henrik Lundqvist, on former Ranger Marian Gaborik
On April 3, 2013, the Rangers jettisoned Gaborik to the Columbus Blue Jackets in a blockbuster deal for Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett and John Moore -- three players who have made their presence felt during the Rangers’ Stanley Cup run.
Granted, none of them have had the type of impact Gaborik has had in Los Angeles.
Before Gaborik arrived in L.A., the Kings couldn’t score. And now? Well, that’s pretty much all they do. Their 3.5 goals per game in the postseason ranks at the top of the league.
Gaborik, 32, is in the final year of his contract ($7.5 million), but it looks as though he’s found a long-term home -- assuming L.A. decides to secure him.
His former teammates expect him to be motivated to beat them.
“I’m sure obviously [facing] any team you’ve been on before in the past you’re gonna have some excitement,” said McDonagh, while noting the Rangers have overhauled their coaching staff, replacing Tortorella with Alain Vigneault.
“I’m sure he’s just as excited as we are.”
Make no mistake about it: The Rangers are happy for Marian Gaborik.
They’d just prefer he feels miserable by the time this series is over.
Injury updates: Vigneault said Cam Talbot (undisclosed injury) and J.T. Miller (believed to be shoulder) remain day to day. Both will travel to Los Angeles. Vigneault hopes that Miller will be able to practice on Tuesday.