Archive for Mats Zuccarello
Some notes from practice today, and there were a bunch of them:
- Mats Zuccarello and Viktor Stalberg will not play tomorrow in Detroit. They are both “dealing with lower body issues.”
- Oscar Lindberg will be back in the lineup. A call up from Hartford is also expected.
- No surprise here, Antti Raanta will be in net for the Rangers tomorrow. Giving Henrik Lundqvist rest is much needed, considering the workload this year.
- Dan Girardi will be ready for the playoffs. Neither he nor Ryan McDonagh (hand) skated at practice.
As expected, Mats Zuccarello won the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award tonight. Zucc came back from a career threatening injury suffered in the playoffs last year to win the award for the second time in three years. He has a line of 26-35-61 this year.
Mats Zuccarello is the nominee from the Rangers this year for the Bill Masterton Trophy, awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. The nominees come from the PWHA.
Zuccarello was the likely nominee for the Rangers, as he came all the way back from a cracked skull and brain contusion to a career year and cementing himself as an integral part of the Rangers’ core. He is clearly beloved by his teammates, and showed true guts to come back from that type of injury.
Give good players time and you will be rewarded. Mats Zuccarello had to fight off traditional hockey stereotypes, climb up the Rangers cluttered depth chart and fight his way into a prominent position over a long period of time but Zuccarello eventually became one of the Rangers most reliable and cost effective players. Zuccarello’s contract is looking better every game and it’s worth looking into the value again because right now, there are few better value deals around the league.
Zuccarello is likely going to lead the Rangers in scoring for the second time in three years by season’s end. Over the past three years (going on numbers after the loss to the Red Wings) Zuccarello is averaging around 54 points per season and this is with 14 games of the current season to go.
Zuccarello is of course, in the first year of his new deal that pays him 4.5m per season. Prior to this season Zuccarello had bagged 142 points in 222 regular season games for an average of .63 points/game. This season he’s scoring at a .77 clip; a pretty significant increase.
Part of my enjoyment of watching hockey goes so much further than whether or not the Rangers win or lose on any given night. Obviously, the goal every year is to win the Cup, as it should be. However, as I always say, for me it’s not just about the end results, but admiration for the process took to get there.
Mats Zuccarello is a great example of the process the Rangers took in putting together a team that has more or less been in contention for the last four to five years. Unlike others, he wasn’t a big money signing, where the Rangers just out-resourced a smaller market team for his services. Nor was he a shoe-in first round draft pick.
Signing Zuccarello was a gamble and his rise from an obscure Norwegian national teamer to a top six forward on a contending team wasn’t guaranteed. What Mats Zuccarello exemplifies is one way you can develop a skill player.
One of the most pleasant surprises this season, aside from the team’s win streak and the outstanding play of Henrik Lundqvist, has been the way in which Mats Zuccarello has recovered from the scary injury he suffered last spring during the playoffs. Zucc has been one of the most consistent Rangers forwards so far this season, putting up 15 points in 22 games played so far this season, including a hat trick against Toronto. While it might be easy to say that Zuccarello has been the Ranger’s best forward so far this season, by applying certain measures we can see a much more complex picture emerge.
Let’s start with the good news. Mats Zuccarello has outstripped his production at this point last year by a pretty substantial amount. Through 22 games played so far this season he has 10 goals and 10 assists; represented as rates his production is 1.5 G/60, 1.5 A/60, and 3.1 P/60. Compare this to last year when in the same number of games played he had 4 goals and 6 assists for 0.6 G/60, 1 A/60, and 1.6 P/60. Suffice to say that this is marked improvement drawn into high relief by the gravity of the injury he sustained last spring. To say that he’s bounced back would be an understatement.
The Rangers got whooped against the Canadiens Wednesday night. Happy thanksgiving everyone! All jokes aside, the Rangers were brutal, but the record is still full of good things so on that note, let’s have a short thanksgiving musings shall we? Have a great day today everyone. Happy holidays.
I’ve gotten a lot of heat recently for writing negative posts on the Rangers despite the sexy record and division lead. The thing is, the Rangers are not playing well in their own zone at all and are over complicating things in the offensive zone as well. We all love the record but if the Rangers ambitions are another trip to the Finals, the play has to begin to catch up to the record.
It’s fact that the list of Rangers players meeting expectations is a lot shorter than the list of players who could be playing much better.
In all reality the Rangers shouldn’t be leaning on Mats Zuccarello. After all, Zuccarello is somewhat middle of the pack when it comes to the big tickets assembled by the contending Rangers. A handful of forwards drop more salary. Zuccarello’s salary rank takes an even bigger hit when you factor in the blueline and a certain All-world goalie residing in the New York net.
The thing is, Zuccarello – also not yet at his best after his scary injury – has been the Rangers best and most consistent forward this season and there hasn’t been much competition. The Rangers just haven’t been good enough up front; whether it’s a lack of finishing (looking at you Mr Nash and Mr Kreider), struggling to establish a consistent forecheck or even helping out their own blueline who’ve faced countless odd man rushes in part because of the miscommunications with their forward brethren. The Rangers forwards aren’t where they need to be. Yet there is Zuccarello on course to smash his career high in goals in part thanks to his hattrick against the hapless Leafs while playing the best hockey amongst the Rangers vaunted top six.
Other than the infamous “Potvin Sucks” chant, there’s not much that’s more annoying at MSG than the cries for players to “SHOOT THE PUCK!” on the power play.
Sure, shooting the puck is usually a great idea – as Wayne Gretzky once said, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – but blasting a slapper from the point into the shin pads of an opposing forward when you’re the last line of defense is generally inadvisable.