Steve Zipay takes you inside the locker room, home and on the road, with the New York Rangers, and also writes about the NHL, off and on the ice.
Torts' heart-to-heart with Gaborik; Zuke will play in Montreal
OTTAWA---The one-on-one conversation along the boards nearing the end of practice lasted more than 12 minutes. Coach John Tortorella was more animated; struggling winger Marian Gaborik did most of the listening, and looked out at the rest of his teammates shooting and passing on the ice at Carleton University.
During the skate, Gaborik, a 40-goal scorer multiple times who is having a season that is frustrating to both he and the coach, was demoted to a fourth line with Kris Newbury and Taylor Pyatt.
With Wednesday’s trade deadline approaching, rumors have begun about the Rangers shopping Gaborik, who will be in the final season of his five-year, $37.5- million contract next year.
Tortorella declined to comment on the gist of the conversation. "I’m having no discussions regarding my discussions with the players," he said. "It’s not one particular player; offensively, it is not just Gabby. You win as a team and lose as a team; for us to become consistent, this has become a club situation.”
Said Gaborik: " We had a good conversation, that’s all I’m going to say."
But he's aware of his season-long slump and denied that his off-season shoulder surgery was an issue. He has nine goals and 10 assists in 33 games and looks like a different player on most nights.
"I feel like I have to make a difference," he said, "Just bring my game to another level, try to make something happen from the get-go, be more engaged, get something going right away, a good play or a chance. Whatever line I’m on I have to try to make a difference, work hard and get something going."That's essentially what Tortorella has said in Philadelphia, that Gaborik had to get his legs going, all game, get "untracked" and inferring that the right wing was gliding at times.
"You have to put frustration on the side and just focus," Gaborik said. "Try to make a difference and keep working; there's not a lot of games left and not a lot of time."
Tortorella also confirmed that Mats Zuccarello would debut Saturday against the Canadiens. During the practice at the college rink, he skated on a line with Brad Richards and Chris Kreider.
"The reason why we’re interested in Zuke is we feel he can make plays," Torts said. "He certainly can help us in the shootout, if it comes to that. I think he may help us on the power play. He has good offensive instincts. I don’t think he’s in bad shape. We can’t expect him to come in and change everything for us offensively. As he’s played with us, it’s a lot easier bringing in a player like him, I think he understands how you have to play here as opposed to overseas....He’s a creative player, that's certainly a big point why he’s with us. He's been a really good power play player with us."
"I have to try to work hard, get (Richards) the puck and get it to (Kreider) so he can score,” Zuccarello said.
More from Torts and others coming up. Currently on train rolling through the farmland between Ottawa and Montreal.
I thought first two periods was a pretty (crappy) game. That’s what we have to understand with such as short window, with 15 games left. We got a goalie who keeps us in our games, no matter what’s going on, we’ve got to find a way, and that’s what’s frustrating, we had glorious chances, and give Bishop some credit, he made some big saves, to give you a chance to win. that’s what we have to grab a hold of---if it’s a close game, find those good minutes. That’s what we’re missing right now. It goes on through the league, you see so many teams that end up winning a hockey game that really were outplayed at certain times but they kept themselves in it, and find a way to get a way to get a push to win a hokcey game. That’s what’s going to have to happen to us. Cally has a chance, Del Zotto has a chance, Mcdonagh has a chance, Gabby has a breakaway off a power play breakoutm, that’s where you need to stick one in the back of the net and maybe at least get a point and maybe find a way to get two….