by Patrick Hoffman on 03/10/10 at 01:53 PM ET
I think it has become quite clear that Rangers leading scorer Marian Gaborik has not been playing at 100 percent since returning to the lineup in Washington on Saturday. There is no question that he is not himself when playing with an injury. Especially when that injury is involving his leg, handicapping him in a way, being that his main strength is his speed. So when taking all of that into consideration, how on earth can head coach John Tortorella blame Marian Gaborik for the 2-0 loss to the Capitals on Sunday, and then once again make another relating comment after the overtime loss to Buffalo? Is Gaborik seriously the only scapegoat Torts can come up with?
Nicholas is right in his assessment that Gaborik is not 100 percent. He’s lost a step in his game, is not creating as many scoring chances and ultimately, it is leading his line and may be even the rest of the club’s offense to struggle.
Further down in his blog, Nicholas pointed out the following:
That said, you are going to blame Gaborik for a loss in a game he did not play well, but was only at about 75 percent? That is nothing short of poor and pathetic coaching. It is one thing to make a point publicly to get a player motivated, but to pretty much put the blame on him for two straight loses is sad, just sad. It really shows what this team/coaching staff has come to.
“They stunk” were the exact words that came out of Tortorella’s mouth when referring to the line of Vinny Prospal, Erik Christensen, and Marian Gaborik. Well Mr. Tortorella, how about the rest of the team? You’re telling me they did not stink? How about Drury who left his man in overtime against Buffalo? How about Henrik Lundqvist allowing a wrap-around to Patrick Kaleta? No, it is Gaborik’s fault they lost, because that is a logical reasoning, right?
While I partly agree with Nicholas’s take, I also side with Torts on this one as well. Down the playoff stretch, the team’s best line (suppossedly) is suppossed to be able to put the puck in the net and generate scoring chances. In the team’s last two games, they haven’t done so and as such, Tortorella has every right to be upset and to say things to get a rise out of his No.1 trio.
I can also understand why Tortorella was upset with Gaborik. The truth of the matter is that if Gaborik is not close to 100 percent, he will be of no use to the Blueshirts. May be he’ll score a few goals here and there but he certainly will not play the way he did earlier in the season.
The team needs the Gaborik of the first half of the season if they want to have a legitimate shot of clinching a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and right now, they don’t. Again, I can see Nicholas’s take on this but at the same time, I also see Tortorerlla’s point as well.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
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