Marian Gaborik treated hockey fans to a special performance last night, tallying 5 goals and one assist as the Wild doubled up the Rangers 6-3 at the X.
Simply, this was a dominant performance by a player who obviously has the skills to be one of the elite offensive players in the NHL. It overshadowed some spotty play by the rest of the team, some solid play by the Rangers, two big hits by Brent Burns (who took out 40% of the Rangers' skaters on the same play) and one ridiculous play by Martin Skoula. But, in the final analysis, all of the focus should be on Gaborik.
I realize this is easier to say after a big win, but the team is starting to show signs of really being a contender. That was the second game in a row that they won after giving up the first goal - and only the third time that has happened all season. The power play continued to show life, going 3-7. The defense, namely Burns and Johnsson, continued to show a propensity for joining the rush. The team overall continued to throw the body around a little bit. The goaltending was again more-than-adequate.
All this without Koivu - and that's the best part. There has been a lot of talk about the Wild needing a center, or one more piece up front to put us over the edge. Meanwhile, the team has assimilated to life without Mikko and is playing solid hockey right now. And, best of all, we know that at some point we're going to get a guy who was our best all-around player before he got hurt, and who won't need time to learn how to play center in JL's system.
All-in-all, for the things that weren't so great, Gaborik's genius made up for everything.
CHICKEN LITTLE SAYS: They were arguably out-played 5:5.
POLLYANNA SAYS: That was the kind of night that you live for as a sports fan.
BOTTOM LINE: It was only two-points, but it was the most fun two-points all season.
STUD: Hmm...let me see, Demo and Voros both had two helpers...Butch had the GWG...ah, what the heck, I'll give it to Gaborik.
DUD: Skoula. Now let it never be spoken of again.