If the Rangers are to rebound in 2010, the hopes of the Madison Square Garden faithful lie largely in the glove-clad hands of Marian Gaborik. The free agency score of the summer for the Blueshirts, the multidimensional Right Winger reportedly turned down a 10-year deal re-up with Minnesota, laden with cash and incentives, before deciding to make New York his new home. In the first year of the 5-year deal he reached with the Rangers, Gaborik lived up to the billing, leading the squad far and away in both goals and assists, setting a career high of 86 points. Gaborik netted 42 goals, tying his career mark, while notching 44 assists, his personal best, though ultimately the Rangers’ season expectations fell short.While the Rangers did not enjoy a playoff run of their own, the year 2010 has already featured a tournament showing for Gaborik, playing alongside his countrymen in the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. Gaborik, a native of Slovakia, was invited to play on the Slovakian national team, joined by fellow NHL stars Zdeno Chara, Marian Hossa, Pavol Demitra, among several others in what was a scintillating display of international competition. The Slovaks got off to an inconsistent start in preliminary group play, settling for a 3rd place Group B finish, behind fellow international hockey powerhouses Russia and the Czech Republic. After a disappointing loss to the Czechs, Slovakia bounced back with an upset win over Russia in overtime, later defeating Latvia handily en route to securing a matchup against Norway in the Qualification Playoffs. The Slovaks then made an improbably run, edging the Norwegians and besting the Swedes before eventually falling to Canada, the eventual gold medalists, in the tournament’s Semifinal round. This earned Slovakia a spot in the Bronze Medal Game against Finland, coming up just short with a final score of 5-3. Hopefully, the inspired play of Gaborik (with help of his countrymen) and tournament experience, leading a 7th ranked team to a 4th place finish, will carry over into a playoff run for next year’s Rangers, as the franchise hopes to finally advance past the Conference Semifinals for the first time since 1997.
Posted Thursday, August 19th, 2010 at 2:51 pm