mats zuccarello

Mats Zuccarello has been something special for the Rangers. When he first came on board, he was an unknown that was having a lot of trouble adjusting to the North American game. It wasn’t until he made the necessary adjustments (discussed in detail by Suit) that he was able to become a productive and consistent NHL player.

Fast forward to today, and Zucc is about to put together his second straight 60 point season, third if you want to round up from 59 during the 2013 season. But it’s not just the points that are impressive. Well, they are, as are those amazing passes he makes look routine and simple. But it’s the fact that he makes others around him better.

Looking back at the 2013-2014 season, when Zucc clicked with Benoit Pouliot and Derick Brassard, it was clear there was something different about his game. A step backward in 2014 occurred due to fewer shots taken and a lower SH%, but over the past two years Zucc has solidified his first line role.

What I find to be amazing about Zucc’s season is that he is shooting well below his career average. He’s shooting just 8%, well off from his career average of 10.9%. Yet despite that, he’s still able to contribute.

In 2014, during that step backward, Zucc faltered because he wasn’t shooting the puck. He learned and has taken considerably more shots. He’s already at 188 shots this season, a career high. For poops and giggles, if Zucc shot at his career 10.9% average, he’d have 20 goals, not 15 goals. It’s amazing how much a 3% drops impacts goal scoring.

With the move to speed and skill at forward, Zuccarello has been putting together possibly one of the finest playmaking seasons we’ve seen in a while here in New York. Clearly one of the top forwards on the team, he is going to be counted upon to continue the production in the playoffs. With Carey Price looming, the Rangers are going to need Zucc to be at his best.

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