There were plenty of times this season when it seemed like the Rangers had no hope of scoring unless Marian Gaborik was putting the puck on net.
Gaborik's 42 goals were essential to the Rangers' success this season, especially since he had to battle back from injuries, a poor 2010-2011 season and John Tortorella's occasional displeasure with his overall game to put up those numbers. There were plenty of other things that contributed to the gains over the previous year for the Rangers, but Gaborik's return to form was one of the biggest.
So it's been a bit of an unpleasant surprise to see Gaborik lose his scoring touch at the exact moment when the Rangers need it the most. He hasn't scored a goal since Game One of the Ottawa series and the Rangers have scored just 15 goals in those eight games.
The issue of Gaborik's lack of production feels even more exaggerated by the way Tortorella is doling out ice time. He left Artem Anisimov, Mike Rupp and John Mitchell on the bench for the final 30 minutes of the game so that he could ride his other nine forwards more heavily.
That's Tortorella's choice, of course, but it didn't seem to make much sense in the context of this series. Anisimov had a goal in Game One and that line generated a few decent scoring chances before they were anchored to the bench.
It makes even less sense when you take into account how much hockey the Rangers hope to play this season. Grinding down your top players is only going to make them less effective, a pretty scary scenario given how little they've gotten from their forwards to this point in the playoffs.
With two assists in the last two games, Gaborik hasn't been totally invisible. He hasn't been a liability defensively, either, but those things are only slight glosses to put on the fact that he isn't putting the puck in the net.
The way the Capitals are playing right now is going to make games extremely tight if the Rangers don't exploit their talent advantage. Gaborik putting the puck in the net is the best way to exploit that advantage and Game Three would be an awfully good time for him to start doing it.