Mats Zuccarello was playing some bad hockey in the month of October. Most of the New York Rangers were playing bad but Zuccarello was making some horrible decisions with the puck. He was scratched for the Rangers game against the Philadelphia Flyers on October 24. Since he was scratched, you could make the argument that Zuccarello has been the Rangers’ best forward.
Zuccarello has already set career highs in points this season. He is one of the few players who is adapting to Alain Vigneault’s system relatively easily after he was scratched. He has eight goals and seventeen assist for a total of twenty-five points. But he is also becoming a better player in other areas.
When Vigneault decided to scratch Zuccarello he cited the fact that Zuccarello battle level was not high enough. Now he is in the corner battling for loose pucks. He has been getting to the front of the net and causing havoc for opposing goaltenders. He has even become one of the Rangers best penalty killers with Ryan Callahan out of the lineup.
One of Zuccarello’s best attributes are his hands and vision. These assets have become a real help for the Rangers power play. In past years, the Rangers power play has struggled to make high-percentage passes. That has all changed with Zuccarello on the ice. He sees the ice so well and puts passes right onto his teammates sticks.
He has found some chemistry with Brad Richards and Benoit Pouliot. Earlier in this season, he was playing well with Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan. It doesn’t really matter who he is playing with because he will find a way to make smart plays on the ice. He finds a way to get to areas of the ice and make good passes.
It is a real surprise that Zuccarello has had so much success this season. He has been the Rangers best and most consistent forward. He is going to have to keep it up if the Rangers want to start making a push for a playoff spot.