Alain Vigneault and the New York Rangers are looking for anything to give the team an edge. The Rangers have put in a lackluster effort in the majority of their games so far this season and it has led them to a 2-5 record. High expectations were in place for the Blueshirts heading into the season that the team has clearly not lived up to. Part of the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of Mats Zuccarello.
Zuccarello was one of the players many fans and media members were talking about as a forward ready to break out this season. His work ethic and skill were lauded as exceptional. Unfortunately it hasn’t worked out the way many had hoped for Zuccarello, who hasn’t been able to contribute anything on the offensive end for New York.
Literally. Zuccarello has no points and is a minus-three on the year.
With all the turmoil surrounding the team coupled with the injuries to Rick Nash, Ryan Callahan and Henrik Lundqvist the Rangers need to put together a lineup that can at least keep them competitive. Right now, Zuccarello does not help them achieve that goal and will likely be scratched vs. the Philadelphia Flyers tomorrow night.
Zuccarello spent most of today’s practice speaking with assistant coach Scott Arniel and was the extra forward during line rushes. This is usually an indication of who is not going to dress for the next game.
Taking Zuccarello’s spot in the lineup will likely be Brandon Mashinter who was recalled from Hartford Wolfpack late last week. Mashinter brings grit and energy to a lineup severely lacking it right now.
A healthy scratch won’t be the norm for Zuccarello. I expect him to get his act together and eventually find a comfortable spot on the third line for New York, but until then, the best place for him is watching the games from a box in the stands.
Martin Burns covers New York Rangers hockey for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter (@martin_burns) for more thoughts and news on the Blueshirts as well as the rest of the NHL!