Long before the lockout robbed all NHL fans of hockey until January, Marian Gaborik was not expected to be able to play until December 2012 when it was announced after last season that he would undergo a shoulder surgery. Gaborik collided with the boards early in the postseason against the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. That led to a somewhat disappointing postseason for Gaborik, who only managed five goals and six assists in 20 games played. While these statistics certainly aren’t anything to be ashamed of, they’re below what many had expected Gaborik to deliver.
Fast forward several months and one of several concerns Rangers fans had coming into an lockout-abbreviated schedule was Gaborik’s health. Gaborik assured media that he was doing just fine coming into the shortened camp but I can not be the only one who felt that it would take a few games to truly see if Gaborik was as healthy as he claimed to be.
Now five games into the season, Gaborik has more than met fan and media expectations for his health and scoring prowess. With five goals and three assists, Gaborik has nearly the amount of points he had in 20 games last season in the playoffs. While it is certainly an entirely different game climate, you can’t deny that Gaborik is off to a fantastic start.
Gaborik had hat trick against the Boston Bruins on Jan. 23, his fifth hat trick as a New York Ranger.
Then on Jan. 26, Gaborik notched two goals and two assists against the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 5-2 victory.
Tortorella has also observed great strides in Gaborik’s play since becoming a Blueshirt.
“He has changed himself as a player since he came here. He was a perimeter guy when he got here that didn’t want to practice because he was sore. He wasn’t injured. I think he has grown so much mentally in how he conducts himself. He is always on the ice. I bet 80% of his goals last year were 5-7 feet from the net. He is a very talented player that is willing to be there.”
It’s safe to say that Gaborik is off to fantastic start and if he continues at this pace, he will safely exceed 60 points despite this shortened 48 game season. Since Tortorella has paired Gaborik with Brad Richards and Rick Nash, the results have spoken for themselves. It’s virtually impossible for any team to defend against a star trio like that, with the aggressive speed of Gaborik, the visionary playmaker in Richards, and the brute force strength and puck handling skills in Nash.
The best has yet to come.