The New York Rangers have something special on their hands with talented forward Mats Zuccarello. His passion for the game is evident in his play, and he was nothing short of spectacular for the Rangers in the regular season and in the playoffs.
Before the New York Rangers’ 2016-2017 season began, I had predicted that Mats Zuccarello would score a total of 57 points. This included 27 goals and 30 assists. The points ended up heavily favoring the assists category, as Zuccarello found his playmaking skills. His point total was 59 in 80 games, which was the amount he was projected to play.
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Zuccarello did nothing short of what was expected of him and exceeded some of those expectations, as well. In the beginning of the season, I was concerned about how well he would be able to form chemistry with newly-acquired young forward Mika Zibanejad. This is why I thought his point production wouldn’t be as good as the previous season.
However, Zuccarello proved that theory wrong, coming out as strong a playmaker as ever. His 44 assists was a team-high in the regular season, and his 59 points led the team in scoring, as well.
In the post-season, Zuccarello remained a strong force, especially in the first round series. Also, his seven points tied with Captain Ryan McDonagh for second on the team. His four goals tied for first with speedy forward Michael Grabner and up-and-coming defenseman Brady Skjei.
In the second round against the Senators, Zuccarello opened the scoring for the Rangers in a pivotal game three. He also added an assist to end the night’s win. In game six, he had a chance to tie the game late. Unfortunately, he fanned on the shot fro the right circle, a point he is mostly nothing short of lethal at.
Of course, Zuccarello was also the winner of the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award for the second season in a row. It was well deserved. The Rangers can’t expect anything less from him in their 2017-2018 campaign.
If anything, Zuccarello’s numbers can only go up from here, as I see it. Had Zibanejad not missed all the time he did due to his broken fibula, who’s to say the numbers couldn’t have been higher this past season?
All things considered, he’s the type of player that’s always trying to up his game and find ways to help the Rangers win. However, it’s his passion that’s abundantly clear on the ice and off that makes him stand out. No doubt, he has a big personality in the locker room, too. Above all, a player like this is something special, and for these reasons, his report card is as follows: