It has been a very inconsistent year for the New York Rangers. As head coach Alain Vigneault would say they have had a tough time getting “traction.” The team’s star players have not performed up to expectations and because of that new players have had to emerge. One of those players has been Mats Zuccarello, and he continued his stellar play last night.
Besides Martin St. Louis, Zuccarello might be the smallest skilled player in the NHL. He is listed at 5-foot-7 tall but plays like he’s a 7-footer. He loves to mix things up and is always throwing his body around. His vision is unbelievable as he is always making great seam passes with ease. His forechecking has been excellent, and he has been the Rangers’ best and most consistent forward this year.
But what really has made Zuccarello so great this year is his clutch scoring. He is tied for the team lead with 12 goals and seven of those have come in the third period. Last night against the Detroit Red Wings, Zuccarello gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead with 5:58 to play and they hung on for the win.
It is no surprise that Zuccarello has been so clutch this year. His old calling card were his dramatics in the shootout. He has won many games for the Rangers over his years on the team because of his slick hands, but now he is finding a way to be a consistent contributor without the shootout.
The Rangers are starting to heat up and are finally getting some “traction.” The main reason why has been the play of Zuccarello. If he continues to be a clutch scorer the Rangers can make some moves real fast.