As the Rangers were stifled throughout the deciding game of last spring’s Eastern Conference finals, top line winger Mats Zuccarello could only watch helplessly from a suite high above the Garden ice.
Since the Rangers lost Game 7 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night, I have been in a funk. A sports malaise.
Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello could not speak for four days after being hit in the head by a shot in the opening round of the playoffs and sustaining a small skull fracture and some bleeding.
Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault isn’t ruling out Mats Zuccarello’s return in the Eastern Conference finals.
Losing in the second round would be really bad, but how the Blueshirts have gotten themselves into this predicament has been a lot worse.
Without Mats Zuccarello, New York’s scoring issues have become exposed. Case in point: Wednesday’s Game 4 loss to the Capitals.
According to a report, if the Rangers advance to the Eastern Conference final and Stanley Cup Final, there’s a good chance that the Norwegian won’t play.
Zuccarello scored 15 goals and added 34 assists for the Blueshirts in 2015. In New York’s first-round series victory over the Penguins, the 5-foot-7 Norwegian had two assists and no goals.
The Islanders can also clinch a spot Thursday night with some help from other teams, including the Rangers. It just doesn’t look like the Blueshirts feel all that inclined to help their long-time rivals out.
The Rangers have done all of this without Lundqvist, St. Louis and Klein. Imagine what this team is capable of doing when its at full strength.
During Sunday’s victory, Yandle became the only defenseman to record three 40-assist seasons since 2010-11.
With Mats Zuccarello signed for the long-term and newly acquired defenseman Keith Yandle added to their arsenal, the Rangers are primed for another run at Lord Stanley.
One day Yandle was at a kid’s birthday party in Arizona, and way out of the Stanley Cup playoff chase. The next, he stepped into the thick of the fight. The All-Star defenseman couldn’t be happier.
Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard both had two assists, and the New York Rangers rebounded from a rare regulation loss and sent the NHL-leading Nashville Predators to their season-worst third straight defeat.
Mats Zuccarello isn’t going anywhere. According to ESPN.com, the Rangers and the 5-foot-7 winger have agreed to a four-year, $18 million extension.