Marian Gaborik, who had gone eight games without a goal, scored four times last night, the first Ranger to do so since Radek Dvorak in 2001. The Rangers, who’d yet to score three non-shootout goals in a game this calendar year, exploded for seven. And Henrik Lundqvist, who was sharp when he needed to be, recorded his seventh shutout of the year. These are all very good things. So why did yesterday’s game — or perhaps more accurately, yesterday’s series of Rangers-related events — leave such a sour taste in our mouth?
Perhaps it’s the knowledge that Amani Toomer’s roller hockey team could have probably scored at least four or five goals on Jonas Gustavsson last night. Or that Gaborik has already teased us twice with hat tricks this season, only to struggle to find a consistent scoring touch. But most likely, it’s that the injuries keep piling up: First came word yesterday that Brandon Dubinsky would miss three to four weeks with a stress fracture of the fibula in his left leg, and then, during last night’s game, Ruslan Fedotenko suffered a separated left shoulder and will miss two to four weeks himself.
Which means an already young and relatively inexperienced team will get even younger and less experienced. The Rangers, to be sure, have gotten contributions from a number of rookies so far this season — after the game, John Tortorella praised Connecticut coach Ken Gernander and his staff for providing a steady stream of conditioned players to slip into the NHL club’s system — but that’s bound to catch up to them at some point, especially as the injured list grows to include reliable players like Dubinsky and Fedotenko. (At least Ryan Callahan should be back soon.)
Of course, getting back the Marian Gaborik who scored 42 goals last year will go a long way toward keeping this team afloat until it’s something close to whole again. Last night — skating on a very effective line with Artem Anisimov and Sean Avery — he played perhaps his best game as a Ranger, a five-point night in which he took full advantage of Gustavsson and a shaky Toronto defense and, one hopes, gained some confidence for the stretch run. Like we said, he’s teased us with a couple of big games before, but they need him to find his scoring touch now more than ever.