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The Gaborik Effect

We all knew it would come at some point, the day that the Rangers would have to play a game without leading scorer Marian Gaborik. He’s got a history of missing games, and is the reason that some fans were critical of the off-season signing by Glen Sather. And in the Rangers’ 3-1 loss to the rival Isles we saw just what life could be like without Gaborik’s scoring abilities.

Offensively, the Rangers seemed to lack any real jump, which is going to happen when your star scorer is out. Yes, they hit three posts (4 if you count Cally’s), but the offense seemed inconsistent and tentative. The effort was certainly there for the whole game, as it pretty much has been all season as a result of Tortorella’s coaching style, but we saw that the Blueshirts don’t have a player that will strike fear into a defense without Gabby. In fact, even with all the new players, last night’s effort looked a lot like last year’s team, which is disappointing.

Calling Chris Higgins!

It’s important to give P.A. Parenteau his props. After getting cut, albeit undeservedly after training camp, he looked good in his first game of the season, and scored the Rangers lone goal. I’d much rather see him in the lineup than either Brashear or Voros, because he gives this team more offensive punch and especially without Gaborik, that’s what this team will need to win.

I think the greater concern for the team should be the blueliners, because they certainly didn’t help the offense last night. In my eyes, they were downright putrid; turnovers in their own zone, lazy passes, lack of physicality. Del Zotto looked pretty good but Gilroy has all but disappeared on the ice and was responsible for the Isles’ first goal when he pinched and couldn’t get the puck deep. Redden and Roszival (who lead the Rangers in ice time with over 24 minutes) both looked tentative and indecisive, leading to turnovers like the one on Tavares’ goal.

This team still needs a brutish, stay-at-home defenseman to set the tone. Girardi and Staal are talented and willing to take the body, but they just don’t do it consistently enough and none of the other defenseman are physical at all, though Del Zotto had a couple of nice hits last night that showed off his strength. But last night the Isles were a much more physical team and the Rangers seemed tentative and sluggish because of it.

Until Gaborik returns, this team is going to have to pick up its physical play and guys like Higgins and Avery are going to have to step it up and put the puck in the net.

-Mike Valvano

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