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Gaborik proves to be worth the wait for Rangers

by Dan Rosen
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- In two quick plays Monday night at Madison Square Garden, the New York Rangers got a glimpse of exactly what Marian Gaborik can do for them.
With the Rangers on a power play nine minutes into the game, Gaborik, who had a pair of Red Wings chasing him around the net, wound up on the left wall before feathering a perfect backhand pass to Enver Lisin, who scored from the slot.
"You need to put more energy into keeping a track of a guy like (Gaborik)," goalie Henrik Lundqvist told "We had one of those guys here when we had (Jaromir) Jagr."
The pass was a pretty play -- one that Rangers fans should come to expect from the slick-skating Slovak. But the play Gaborik made away from the puck in the final minute of the game is what had coach John Tortorella gushing on Tuesday afternoon.
"He made a couple bad plays and turned the puck over, but he came back and stopped right in the slot area and made a great play with his strength and stick to hold that slot area," Tortorella said. "We pick it up, go the other way and Arty (Artem Anisimov) scores on the open net.
"Those are the things that we're going to ask him to be able to work, the play away from the puck, because I want to put him on the ice in those (end-of-game) situations. He could be so dangerous and back teams off. He covered up, stopped and used his strength to get things done."
For his part, Gaborik was just happy to get off to a good start in Ranger blue.
He's been dying to show his coach and all those concerned Blueshirts faithful why he's worth all the years and millions he got this summer. But Gaborik had to wait for the tightness in his groin to subside before he could make his debut.
Gaborik skated on the right wing with Vaclav Prospal in the middle and Lisin on the left. He got the primary assist on Lisin's goal as well as five shots in nearly 20 minutes of ice time.
"I was a little nervous before the game just for the fact that it was the first time I changed teams and it was new with everything, especially coming off a tight groin," Gaborik, who sat out the first three preseason games with the groin problem, told "For sure it was great to get out there. I think everybody was a little anxious and it was a little different for me being (with) a new team in a new place. I feel pretty good."
So good, in fact, Gaborik was back on the ice Tuesday morning at the Rangers' suburban practice facility working with the power-play units.
His camp got off to a slow start, but Gaborik quickly is getting comfortable and seems to be having no trouble adjusting.
He said the system Tortorella has the Rangers playing, one that promotes attacking, is fun for him because it involves a lot of skating. As most everyone in the NHL knows, Gaborik is one of the best skaters in the League when healthy, which he says he is now.
He also said his conditioning is up to par, and his presence on the ice early Tuesday is a sign of that. If all goes to plan, Gaborik will play in the final two preseason games against Washington -- Thursday at the Garden and Sunday in D.C.
It'll be interesting to see what else he's got up his sleeve.
"I don't look at him as just a scorer or a guy that can skate," Tortorella said. "He can beat people one-on-one. He can give-and-go and move a puck into small areas. He's a skilled guy and a dynamic guy. Through watching him play and watching him up close in person in camp, he's the complete thing."
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