Rangers need Gaborik to step up

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:24 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Since the Verizon Center is just a handful of blocks from FBI headquarters here in downtown Washington, maybe the brain trust of the New York Rangers should trot over to the joint and deliver a missing personís report about Marian Gaborik.

After all, for $7.5 million US per season, you should be getting something more tangible than hockeyís version of the invisible man.

If Gaborik is hurting, well, thatís understandable. The gifted yet brittle forward has spent more time in the trainerís room during his illustrious career than some team doctors have.

But if thatís the case, the Rangers arenít saying. Besides, why dress such a talented guy and put him in the lineup every night if his skill set is hindered by some kind of ailment? For his checking abilities? Donít think so.

No, Gaborikís ineffective appears to be more due to Marian Gaborik himself and less about the injury bug.

Indeed, when the Rangers take to the Madison Square Garden for Game 3 of their best-of-seven first round series on Sunday afternoon, it should be quite easy for them to understand why they already trail the Washington Capitals by a 2-0 margin in games.

Simply put, their big guns like Gaborik, Wojtek Wolski and Brandon Dubinsky have been firing blanks.

Of all the Rangersí so-called snipers, Gaborik easily has the most natural ability. At least thatís the rumour. It certainly hasnít been on display in the matchup against the Caps, one in which New York has beaten Caps rookie goalie Michal Neuvirth just once in almost 139 minutes of hockey.

For the streaky Gaborik, his personal scoring drought was stretched to 11 games in New Yorkís 2-0 loss in Game 2 on Thursday night. Sure, he showed the odd flash, but that simply isnít good enough for a goal scorer who isnít,

Weíll give Gaborik this much: He might have lost his scoring touch but not his sense of humour.

ďI just to have to relax a little bit and I guess close my eyes or something,Ē he said.

Donít laugh. Maybe he should try shutting his peepers and shooting. Keeping them open certainly isnít working.

Even Gaborik himself admitted his shot simply isnít where he wants it to be.

ďIf it was, itíd be in the net,Ē Gaborik said. ďIn that crucial time, I just have to bear down. Maybe, Iím squeezing the stick too hard. I just have to keep shooting.

ďItís pretty frustrating obviously. You canít win with one goal. We have to try to do everything we can to get the goals. We have to try to get the ugly goal, make sure we go into traffic and be in (Neuvirthís) face and shoot the puck as much we can.

ďWe lost two games, but you have to try to slip past it. Weíve got another two games at home and we need to regroup and keep our heads up.Ē

Interestingly, a number of Rangers-related blogs on the world-wide web have been jumping to Gaborikís defence, claiming he should not be made the scapegoat because there are others who are worthy of goathorns.

Such an argument might hold more credibility in the regular season when not every game holds a do-or-die significance. But in the postseason, where every shift can be a game-changer, Marian Gaborik had best find his game very soon.

Or at least get the FBI to do it for him.


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