Originally written February 21, 2013 on Blue Seat Blogs:
Gaborik needs to step up, the Rangers need him. I almost didn’t want to write this post out of protest at losing valuable sleep having to watch the Montreal game Tuesday night. That said, it probably should have sent me to sleep. Anyway, it’s another musings on another game day. Let’s get at it. Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik need to be much, much better. Inconsistent at best, invisible at worst these guys should be difference makers in turgid affairs like the one on Tuesday. Gaborik: I’m a huge fan, one of my favourite Rangers. That said, he’s started to play more on the perimeter again and is getting away from what makes him successful when he’s been scoring as a Ranger. We need to see him in open ice, yes. However, we also need to see him around the net, looking for rebounds, looking to sneak behind defensemen. Gaborik needs to step up. The Rangers did not lose to Montreal because of Rick Nash’s absence. They lost because they created no traffic, because they played conservatively and because generally, team wide execution of the basics was at best, poor. Nash obviously helps when he’s in the line-up but blaming the loss on his absence is too easy. Unless you’re name is Carl Hagelin, right now, no Ranger forward is exempt from criticism. I still think (even with Nash out) Chris Kreider should be in the AHL logging big minutes. For those of you worrying about the standings – do you really think Anaheim is a 12-2-1 team? Do you think the Canadiens can continue to win on such minimal offensive displays? Do you really think Washington is the worst team in the East? Do you really think Chicago won’t lose a single game in regulation all year? At the end of the day, it’s still early. Even in a 48 game season. Back to Gaborik; how do you get him back on track, playing with more consistency – does it lie in his linemates or does he need a large dose of the Tortorella treatment? As much as I love the (usual) application and effort of Ryan Callahan, I also think he needs to be contributing more offensively. Just because he’s always giving 100% effort (and is immensely popular) doesn’t mean he’s immune to needing to up his game. The Rangers may be struggling for offensive consistency but they can get away with it for now, because Lundqvist is back to playing at a high level and the defense, generally speaking, is playing well in front of him. Hagelin’s form begs two questions; do we need to re-evaluate his offensive upside? Or do we assume his form is mainly the product of being Rick Nash’s line mate? Personally, I think his talent and intelligence were underrated when he was turning pro. Draft bargain. Question Time: Will Hagelin reach 20 goals this season? Who will score more from the blueline? Will Nash score 15 goals? What is your biggest area of concern when assessing the Rangers? Should the Rangers use their remaining compliance buy-out in the summer? And if so, who do you target? Will Lundqvist be a Vezina candidate this year? Who has most disappointed you on the Rangers this season so far? Tweet

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