Gaborik’s scoring slump lands him on the bench

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:25 AM ET

TORONTO - Marian Gaborik defied the critics last season by staying healthy and scoring 86 points for the New York Rangers.

This year, they’re back on his case. He has been in just 33 games with 24 points, complicated by an eight-game scoring slump and a seat on bench for much of Sunday’s second period in a 3-2 loss to the Flyers. That was courtesy of coach John Tortorella.

“Obviously, I was surprised, but it’s the coach’s decision,” Gaborik told reporters. “You definitely want to go out there and prove you should be on the ice. I just have to work harder to try and get out of it.”

Tortorella sat Gaborik with the team down 3-0.

“We need production,” Tortorella said. “I’ll leave it at that. We’ve got guys grinding, creating scoring chances, but we need our skill guys to score.”

Canucks look for spark

The Vancouver Canucks hope forward Sergei Shirokov’s arrival will help their waning fortunes on offence, or at least light a fire under some slumping players.

Led by Steve Tambellini’s 0-for-10 drought, the Canucks were blanked in two of their past three games, with the super Sedins unable to man the oars and fill the sails at the same time. Shirokov didn’t score in six games last year, but had 16 goals and 33 points for the Manitoba Moose in the AHL.

The Minnesota Wild still shocked itself by blanking the league-leading Canucks on Sunday, 4-0. With a roster that varies in notoriety from Martin Havlat to Clayton Stoner, the Wild is hanging on against some teams that are much better on paper, just three points out of a playoff spot.

“We’re a strange team, there’s no doubt about it,” winger Andrew Brunette said. “You never know some nights what’s going to show up.”

Sunday was the first NHL win for Wild netminder Anton Khudobin, who was picked 206th overall in 2004.

Ice Chips

The NHL names its all-star team captains on Tuesday and a groggy Sidney Crosby might still get to pick his team. but not play in the game.

Crosby remains totally sidelined by a concussion suffered in the Winter Classic and as much as the league, the fans and the host Hurricanes want him in Raleigh, it’s the Penguins who still sign his $8.7 million US pay cheque. The game is not until Jan. 30 and if Crosby’s feeling better he could partake in the skills contest or even play a few shifts, as long as the usual all-star game no-hit code applies. But if he doesn’t get back to practice in the next 10 days, the Pens won’t dream of risking any kind of accidental collision ... Florida captain Bryan McCabe started Saturday’s games against New Jersey with a broken finger and ended it with a fractured jaw, coming back from catching a puck in the face to finish the contest. He’ll be out four to six weeks after surgery, which could be the blow that causes Florida to miss the playoffs a 10th straight year ... Anton Volchenkov is back with the Devils after attending his father’s funeral in Russia. Former Soviet Red Army forward Alexei Volchenkov had played against the Canadiens in the famous 1975 New Year’s Eve game ... On Monday, Patrick Marleau of the Sharks and Jamie Langenbrunner of the Dallas Stars became the 259th and 260th NHLers to play 1,000 games ... Ex-Leaf Joey MacDonald gets his second start in relief of Jimmy Howard on Tuesday when the Wings play the Pens. The clubs are 1-1 since Crosby and Co. won Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup ... Howard has a bruised knee, while Chris Mason of the Atlanta Trashers has a more serious MCL sprain with no firm return date ... After threats the Oilers might leave, the City of Edmonton has cautiously begun talks on entering into a formal downtown arena deal with owner Daryl Katz ... Ducks’ captain Ryan Getzlaf, recovering from sinus fractures, should get word this week on when he can begin skating ... Matt Moulson, an unrestricted free agent next season, says he wants to stay with the Islanders, their warts and all.


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