Mats Zuccarello has been one of the catalysts for the Rangers recent 9-3-1 run that clinched a playoff berth. He was brought back, and with a new confidence that is apparent on the ice, changed his game and is now becoming a leader in driving puck possession. It’s a transformation in his game that is not only showing up on the scoreboard (3-4-7 in 14 games), but is showing up in his metrics.
Although Zuccarello is subject to small sample sizes, he leads the forwards with at least ten games played in Corsi Rel QoC (1.035!!!) and RCorsi (18.7!!!). We always rave about how Carl Hagelin (12.1 RCorsi) is a puck possession beast, but Zuccarello is blowing him out of the water. What makes Zuccarello’s emergence special is that he is helping Brad Richards and Taylor Pyatt improve their puck possession stats. Both were pretty awful (comparatively to the type of player they are) before being put on a line with Zuccarello.
What is perhaps even more impressive is where Zuccarello ranks in the overall leaderboard with a minimum of ten games played. Zuccarello’s RCorsi puts him at 19th in the league, and his Corsi Rel QoC puts him at 55th in the league. That’s a pretty impressive combination.
It’s no surprise that the Rangers are 9-4-1 since Zuccarello joined the team. His presence has brought about the reemergence of Richards, who is on a five game point streak (5-4-9) and has a line of 5-8-13 since then. Even Pyatt has seen an uptick in his production, with his own five game point scoring streak as well.
The impact Mats Zuccarello has had on this club has been astounding, and it’s more than anyone could have ever predicted. I was not a big fan of bringing him back, as his first stint was inconsistent at best, but this new and improved Zuccarello is proving everyone wrong. If he can consistently drive puck possession, produce on the scoresheet, and help other produce, then the Rangers will be in a good spot heading into the playoffs.