It is clear that the New York Rangers are not one of the league’s best teams when it comes to putting the puck in the net.
The team is currently 24th in the league in goals scored. The club does not blow out teams and they’ve actually given up more goals than they have scored.
While those things are bad, there is one player on this team that continues to have a solid offensive season and that is 25-year-old forward Mika Zibanejad. As I mentioned in a previous article, Zibanejad’s play shows that they won the Derick Brassard trade by a landslide and I do not think that is going to change anytime soon.
Zibanejad leads the team with 44 points in 48 games. He is actually now just seven points shy of tying his career high that he set with the Ottawa Senators during the 2015-16 season when he notched 51 points.
Believe it or not, this puts him close to being a point-per-game player which for this team is huge. When he is putting up points like he is now, his linemates reap the benefits.
If fans have been watching Zibanejad over the past few weeks, they should know that he is hot right now. He has nine points (five goals and four assists) in his last five games, including a four point performance in a win over the Chicago Blackhawks back on January 17.
What’s great is that Zibanejad is showing that he has a goal-scoring touch. With 17 goals on the season (as of January 21) puts him second on the team behind Chris Kreider’s 22 goals.
Zibanejad may be known more for his passing, but he has such an underrated shot. He can pick corners, can find holes in the offensive zone to score goals from the slot or even at the side of the net, and he has a terrific slapshot that he should not be afraid to use.
Speaking of scoring goals, Zibanejad has developed a bit of clutch gene. He scored back-to-back game-winning goals in wins over the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins and leads the team with four game winners.
At critical points in the game, Zibanejad always seems to be in the right place. He is able to get to open areas, is careful with the puck, and is clearly not afraid to make things happen at crucial points in the game.
Zibanejad has also been a big-time player on special teams for this hockey club. He currently has 16 points (six goals and 10 assists) on the power play to go along with two shorthanded goals.
With the trade deadline looming, let’s hope the Rangers decide to keep this guy. He is their best offensive player who is on pace to hit the 75-point mark this season, he’s still very young, and is someone who appears to be a leader both on and off the ice for this team.
Hopefully, the Rangers’ brass realizes this and that the team will make him the focal point of their rebuild/retool going forward because Zibanejad is the perfect player to take this team into its new era.
*Photo: New York Daily News