Originally posted on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 12/19/11

Every successful team has that one player that you can always rely on for a goal no matter what the circumstances or the score. For the New York Rangers, they didn't have that last season but made the playoffs anyway. This season, however, 29-year-old winger Marian Gaborik has re-emerged as the Blueshirts' go-to  scorer, as he currently leads the team with 17 goals and 10 assists in thirty games played. After a down season in 20010-11, Gaborik has rebounded extraordinarily well so far this year and has carried the team on his back in the process. 

There's no doubt in my mind that Gaborik was dealing with some sort of nagging injury last season that put secretive limitations on his ability to perform out on the ice. From the start of training camp this year, however, Gabby has come back as a new player. He's skating faster than ever, his stickhandling has actually improved and he's found that wicked wrist shot that put points on the board so often in his debut season on Broadway. 

Looking back at the schedule, the Rangers turned their season around on October 31 with a win over the San Jose Sharks at Madison Square Garden. Since then, the club has won 15 of 21 games and has soared to the top of the Eastern Conference (currently only three points out of first place). Of those 21 games, Gaborik has recorded at least a point in 13 of them, and of those 13 games, the Rangers have won eleven. See the pattern there? 

There's no questioning the fact that Gaborik's tremendous season has played a huge part in the Rangers being such a dominant team from the end of October to now. And considering Gaborik isn't the only player that has scored consistently (Richards and Callahan) has to make the Rangers feel pretty good about their chances this year, because remember, they did make it to the playoffs and put up a fight against the Washington Capitals in the first round without that last season. 

I think the key thing with Gaborik is that he has re-discovered his confidence and is doing a lot of the things he was hesitant to do last season. For example, he is shooting much more often than he did a year ago, especially on the powerplay. Also, Marian is much stronger on the puck and is very difficult to strip of possession when he's moving his feet. That's created more scoring chances for himself and his linemates, so now you see how one player's efforts can have a large impact on the entire team. 

Head coach John Tortorella has also given Gaborik plenty of credit this season. He's acknowledged Gabby as the team's best skater throughout the past few months, but he also holds high expectations for Marian. As we saw last week against Buffalo, Gaborik was benched because of a turnover that resulted in a goal against. Tortorella called him out on it on the bench and Gaborik went out and scored to seal the deal late in the game. That was indicative of the understanding relationship that Gaborik has with the coach, which is excellent for an emotional player like Marian. 

I'm going to be honest; Gaborik is one of my favorite Rangers to watch of all time. The way in which he uses his speed to create chances is sometimes breathtaking, and his creativity with the puck is endless as well. There's no slowing him down when he's as dominant as he's been this season, so I get the sense that he will carry this team quite a distance this year. 

Number 300...

 

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