Over the summer, I wrote that Marian Gaborik was the only one that could help turn around his game, needing a rededication to hockey for this upcoming season. That, even though Brad Richards was brought in to help an anemic offense & power play, the onus was on Gaborik to make himself the player he was for the New York Rangers during the ’09-10 season.
In 30 games this season, the Slovakian has 17 goals and looks every bit of the sniper who netted 42 goals in his first year on Broadway.
More on what’s been different with Gaborik after the jump.
The biggest difference between this and last year for Marian Gaborik is he’s using his legs; arguably the most lethal weapon in his possession. We’ve heard countless times in the past coach Tortorella mention how Gaborik needs to use his legs/speed to be effective; in essence, it’s his game. Whether it was due to nagging injuries, a sag in confidence, or a combination of the two, Gaborik could never put it together last season.
This year, Gaborik is flying all over the ice. He’s beating his defenders wide with blazing speed or attempting to skate right through them. If Gaborik has the puck, he’s driving towards the net without fear. All of which are necessary if you want to reclaim sterling offensive numbers.
Elaborating on confidence, Gaborik looks to the naked eye more willing to use his ultra quick-release to beat goaltenders whereas last year he would elect to pass, fire off a meager shot, or get knocked off the puck. It’s a fickle thing amongst athletes; confidence comes as goes as some Rangers fans do. At the moment, Gaborik’s confidence is sky-high, which is essential to the Slovakian’s arsenal.
A subtle difference to Gaborik’s game this season is his attention to detail on defense (most of the time). By using his legs (constant theme, no?), he can backcheck and catch up to his markers, assuming he has the required DESIRE to do so, which is the exactly the difference. By being healthy and buying into what Tortorella’s preaching, Gaborik has committed himself to both sides of the puck. If Gaborik – and the rest of his teammates – play solidly defensively, it will translate into offense.
Currently, Gaborik is on pace for 46 goals, which would surpass his career-best mark of 42 in the ’09-10 season – also done with Minnesota during the ’07-08 season. There’s nothing – at the moment – to suggest he can’t reach those numbers.