Mika Zibanejad’s even-strength production must skyrocket
If the Rangers can find one more player to rival Artemi Panarin’s production in the offensive zone, Mika Zibanejad is the first player who comes to mind. This is no knock on the 30-year-old, who is averaging almost a point per game, but ideally, we would see him more closely resemble the productive player we saw last season during New York’s playoff run.
Last year, Zibanejad scored a career-high 91 points, averaging 1.1 points per game. If that production returns, opponents will more than have their hands full looking to stop not one but two top-tier goal-scorers. Also in 2022-23, Zibanejad enjoyed a stellar 15.5 shooting percentage with 251 shots on goal, both of which have dropped substantially this season.
Those 251 shots equal roughly three per game, and the 118 in 49 he’s recorded so far in 2023-24 sits at just 2.40. Overall, we need to see Zibanejad taking more shots at the net when a lane opens. For the Rangers to become a top-five scoring team in the NHL, Zibanejad must get more aggressive in shooting the puck. Again, this is no knock on Zibanejad, but he hasn’t quite put his most complete game forward yet.
(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference as of Tuesday, February 6th)