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SLY WILLIAMS
01-14-2013, 12:44 PM
If there were a sight stranger than the Rangers actually on the ice for their first sanctioned team practice after all these months of being locked out, it was Marian Gaborik lining up on the left side.

And as Gaborik told The Post, that’s where he anticipates opening the season Saturday night in Boston after an 11-year NHL career spent all but exclusively on right wing.

“Torts [coach John Tortorella] told me that’s where he’d like to see me, so I’m going to prepare and practice at left wing,” said Gaborik, whose 41 goals last season were third most in the NHL behind Steven Stamkos’ 60 and Evgeni Malkin’s 50.

“There’s definitely going to be an adjustment, especially in our own zone and with wall play, so I’ll work on that whenever I get the chance.”

Gaborik, a left-hand shot, has played the left side for Slovakia in the Olympics. He started one game at left wing in three seasons as a Ranger, on Jan. 30, 2010 in Phoenix, with Vinny Prospal in the middle and Ryan Callahan on the right. When the Blueshirts fell behind 3-0 after the first period, the experiment ended. Gaborik shifted back to the right on a unit with Prospal and Erik Christensen for the remainder of what became a 3-2 defeat.

“I like shooting from the left side,” Gaborik said. “I feel very comfortable with my shot from [the left wing circle], so that could be an advantage.

“Also, if I’m playing with Step [Derek Stepan], it’s good that his first instinct as a right-hander is to move the puck on his forehand to the left side.”

If Tortorella likes enough of what he sees from Gaborik this week, No. 10 will likely open with Stepan — his partner in the middle for 60 games last season — and Callahan while Brad Richards, out yesterday with the flu, skates between Carl Hagelin on the left and Rick Nash on the right.

The Rangers always have the option of creating a power first line with Richards, Nash (on the left) and Gaborik, but the coach not only likes Hagelin’s speed with Richards, but splitting Gaborik and Nash at least in theory diversifies the attack.

“If Rick and I are on different lines, it makes it a lot more difficult for opposing coaches to match their defense against us,” Gaborik said. “If moving to the left makes us a more dangerous team, I’m all for it.”

Gaborik said he is fully healed from the June 6 surgery he underwent to repair a torn right labrum suffered midway through the first round of the playoffs against the Senators and through which he labored in subsequent series against the Capitals and Devils.

“Everything feels good, but the real test starts now,” Gaborik said. “I feel pretty confident, though; I’m not holding back or hesitating from going in traffic because I’m trying to protect the shoulder.”

When Gaborik arrived as a free agent from Minnesota, he spent a fair amount of the 2009 camp off the ice, attempting to protect against a history of hip and core injuries. That has not been the case since.

“From the first day he came here to the way it is now, Gabby has changed,” Tortorella said. “He has a different mentality. And he’s still growing as a player.”

Perhaps even sprouting at age 32 (33 next month) as a left wing.LINK (http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/rangers/right_to_left_x8yq7qtfK1PO95bRlCQ8wK?utm_medium=rs s&utm_content=Rangers)

J4KOP99
01-14-2013, 01:25 PM
Definitely interesting. So Looks like the top 2 lines are:

Hagelin-Richards-Nash
Gabby-Stepan-Cally

SLY WILLIAMS
01-14-2013, 01:30 PM
That first line is the one I like best. That line could be so exciting to watch.

bsi
01-14-2013, 03:22 PM
Kreider and Hagelin will likely bounce back and forth between 1st and third line depending on who's hot I'd say. Though it helps round out our lines with having Gaborik on LW so we don't have a log jam at RW, I've always thought a person should be on their offwing. If you have to take the puck to the center of the ice it's hard to get it back to your forehand and get a good shot or a one timer, it just seems to make things more difficult for a shooter. The big winner in all of this is Callahan really, he's gonna be driving the net banging rebounds as Gabby has to shoot from the outside now. Good to see Gaborik optimistic about it though, I'm sure they'll switch him back if he struggles.

SLY WILLIAMS
01-14-2013, 05:00 PM
I actually think many fowards play better offensively on the off wing. It gives them more chance to be on their forehand when cutting towards the middle of the ice. I'd keep Gabs on the RW since he shoots left handed.

bsi
01-14-2013, 05:07 PM
I actually think many fowards play better offensively on the off wing. It gives them more chance to be on their forehand when cutting towards the middle of the ice. I'd keep Gabs on the RW since he shoots left handed.

Ya, I think his goal production might slip a bit because of it, but it does enable us to have Gaborik, Nash and Callahan all on the top two lines. Maybe they are shifting him over to prevent further injury to his shoulder, who knows.

SLY WILLIAMS
01-14-2013, 05:21 PM
Ya, I think his goal production might slip a bit because of it, but it does enable us to have Gaborik, Nash and Callahan all on the top two lines. Maybe they are shifting him over to prevent further injury to his shoulder, who knows.

It will make it easier for him on the boards to be on his forehand and while getting the puck out of our own zone but I think he should stay on RW. I would not mind Cally on 3rd line and 2nd unit of the power play.

bsi
01-14-2013, 06:07 PM
It will make it easier for him on the boards to be on his forehand and while getting the puck out of our own zone but I think he should stay on RW. I would not mind Cally on 3rd line and 2nd unit of the power play.

Callahan is the engine of the team and as well the captain, I don't see any way that Torts takes him off the top two lines unless he plays his way off them. Maybe Gaborik becomes more of a puck distributer than a scorer this year with the new change, he'll be fine for sure and maybe he picks up more assists this way. I think this idea of Gaborik playin left wing either has to do with getting him comfortable over there incase they want to load up a line with Richards and Nash or it has to do with his shoulder and Torts wanting to protect him a bit.
I'm pumped about the season, I'm nervous of all the predictions of us being the number 1 or 2 team in the east to beat. I'd rather be under the radar really, but they've built a good looking team that should contend for a few years.

runnermjr1296
01-14-2013, 06:32 PM
I always thought wingers played best on the off wing. When I played thats where I liked to play

NYSPORTS98
01-15-2013, 12:23 PM
I actually think many fowards play better offensively on the off wing. It gives them more chance to be on their forehand when cutting towards the middle of the ice. I'd keep Gabs on the RW since he shoots left handed.

I agree.

IAmARanger18
01-15-2013, 10:11 PM
Definitely interesting. So Looks like the top 2 lines are:

Hagelin-Richards-Nash
Gabby-Stepan-Cally

The best top 6 in the NHL right there.

notoriousbig21
01-17-2013, 12:24 AM
YEEEEEHAWWWW love this. Our top 6 is delicious. Please stay healthy, knock on wood.