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Gaborik: Don't blame changes, need to step up starting now

I've tweeted some of this and discussed odds and sods on the afternoon chat, but for the slackers....

About 15 minutes before practice today, Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Biron were at one end of the rink working with goaltending coach Benoit Allaire. That’s standard operating procedure.

Stickhandling alone at the other end and firing pucks into the empty cage was Marian Gaborik. That’s unusual.

“Just shooting and trying to get some motion with the stick, playing around a bit,” said Gaborik, whose latest linemates will be Artem Anisimov and Ruslan Fedotenko, when the Rangers host  the Maple Leafs tomorrow.

“I’m not blaming anything on the line changes,” said Gaborik, who has scored one goal in the last 10 games. “Last year’s lines changed, but not as much. I have to play with whoever I’m with and perform. It’s the time of year, everybody’s got to take it up another level, especially myself. I believe it’s going to happen starting tomorrow.”

Gaborik and Fedotenko played six games from Dec. 9-18, but not with Anisimov, who also is struggling, with a goal and assist in the last 10. Five of those December games were with center Derek Stepan, the other was with Erik Christensen. The Rangers went 4-2; Gaborik had a goal and three assists, Fedotenko had a goal and two assists.

“Feds is strong on the puck, he retrieves pucks, I think that will help them,” said coach John Tortorella. “That’s going to be his biggest role with that line, forechecking and adding pressure to the puck.”

Two days after Tortorella sat Gaborik for extended minutes of the second and third periods, he supported his most skilled offensive player.

“Gabby’s a pro. He understands what expected of him. He’s in a little bit of a funk. He realizes that; he’s honest with himself. He’s too good a player to continue to go down this road. He wants to help the team. It’s a matter of understanding, to score you need to do other things too. If Gabby fights for pucks and moves his legs, things are going to happen for him.”

***

Gaborik, Mats Zuccarello and Wojtek Wolski will be used as fourth forwards on the power play units, positioned at the point…"We don't have a power play quarterback," reiterated Tortorella.... After their eye-opening six-point third period, Zuccarello and Wolski will stick with Stepan.... Brandon Dubinsky-Brian Boyle-Brandon Prust wll be another line... C Kris Newbury, 28, will play his third straight game, with winger Chris Drury and Sean Avery. LW Dale Weise, 22, will sit again and could be returned to the AHL tomorrow.  “We’ll make a decision after the game. They (Connecticut) play Friday, we don’t want him to miss too many if he's not going to play here. Newbs is a different player. He's won some faceoffs, he can make a play. I like the way he presents himself. I like him on the bench. I can move Dru to the wing. He brings some tenacity to us, some grit. ”…D Steve Eminger will switch with Matt Gilroy and play with Ryan McDonagh. Torts said that with Eminger back on the right side, he'll be better able to move the puck and Matt Gilroy/Michael Sauer brings some balance.

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