The Los Angeles Kings have remained in strong playoff contention despite numerous key injuries and some relatively lackluster performances from important players. Marian Gaborik falls into both those categories, but his play as of late is encouraging.
He missed the first 21 games of this season with a foot injury, but came back to score 4 points in his first 6 games following his return to the ice.
He plunged into a prolonged drought following his return, though. He went the next 11 games without scoring a point.
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Gaborik is 34 years old, and he’s certainly not the same dynamic 40 goal scorer he was with the Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers, but the cold streak was puzzling from a guy who still possesses his degree of offensive flair.
The last 4 games have seen somewhat of a resurgence from him, though. He has 2 goals and 2 assists, and that reemergence has coincided with the improved play of Jake Muzzin and Anze Kopitar, who were also languishing in similar slumps.
Kopitar had 3 assists against the Winnipeg Jets, and is not only on a 4 game point streak, but has accumulated 8 points in the last 6 games.
The playmaking in the offensive zone has been there for Kopitar this season, but he doesn’t have many goals. However, the Kings would suffice with the lofty assist totals Kopitar is now producing.
It’s as if all the players who were mysteriously underperforming all figured out the cause of their predicaments simultaneously.
Gaborik is just 3 years removed for scoring 14 playoff goals in 26 games to help the Kings hoist the Cup.
Great players will eventually figure things out, and Gaborik has been a special offensive threat throughout his career.
His speed and scoring touch are assets that the Kings have utilized to their benefit. The acquisition of Gaborik in March of 2014 was franchise altering. Maybe they don’t win the Cup that second time without his presence.
When the roster is healthy and players perform to their ability, this Kings team is dangerous. Kopitar looks like he’s officially found his groove again, as does Muzzin.
A typical performance from Gaborik for the rest of the regular season would make that task exponentially easier. It’s a small sample size, but his recent play evokes a sense of optimism that he’s about to break out.