Get to Know a Ranger: Mats Zuccarello

Bruce Bennett

As part of the build-up to the first-round playoff series between the Capitals and the Rangers, Japers' Rink will be looking at some of the important but perhaps lesser-known players on the Rangers and how they might impact the series.


Mats Zuccarello

#36 / Left Wing / New York Rangers

5-7

174

Sep 01, 1987

Oslo, Norway

Undrafted

Assets Is a great passer and one of the most gifted hockey players his country has ever produced. Is very creative with the puck and has plenty of offensive ability. Uses a long stick to give him a reach advantage.
Flaws Is woefully small for National Hockey League standards, so he must prove capable of withstanding the pounding for 82 games. Also needs more work on his defensive game.
Career Potential Diminutive but creative playmaker.
(Assets, Flaws and Career Potential via The Hockey News player page)



Regular Season GP G A P +/- PIM PPG PPA GWG SOG PCT ATOI
2010-11 (Rangers) 42 6 17 23
3 4
0 9 2 74 8.1 14:10
2011-12 (Rangers) 10 2 1
3
0
6
1 1
1 10 20.0 10:03
2012-13 (Rangers) 15 3 5
8
10 8
0 1 0 27 11.1 16:25
Playoffs GP G A P +/- PIM PPG PPA GWG SOG PCT ATOI
2010-11 (Rangers) 1 0
0
0
0
2
0 0
0
1
0.0 7:34

Career Individual Usage, via somekindofninja (click to enlarge):

Zuccarello_usage_medium

2013 Rangers Player Usage, via Hockey Abstract:

Zuccarello_usage2_medium

Why you should know who he is - Mats Zuccarello didn’t join the Rangers until the tail end of March, and his arrival coincided with the Rangers emergence from relative offensive futility. In 15 games with a blue sweater, Zuccarello has notched three goals and five assists, is fifth on the team in points per 60 minutes, and has the best Corsi rating on the team amongst skaters who have played more than a handful of games. He’s a small, shifty, offensively-minded forwarded who takes the best qualities of players like Marcus Johansson and Mathieu Perreault, and marries them in his own style.

How the Caps can stop him - Hit him. Don’t give him space to work with. Listed at a waifish 5’7", 179 pounds, Zuccarello probably isn’t relishing the information from his teammates that playoff ice has a tendency to shrink. The young Norseman has good puck skills, but force him to the boards and he is suddenly a liability. Zuccarello has played some of the team's toughest minutes since his return to the Big Apple, as he generally goes up against top-6 guys. If John Tortorella maintains this deployment strategy, the onus for getting in this little hobbit’s way will fall to the likes of either the Backstrom or the Ribeiro line, though as evidenced in the usage chart above, Zuccarello sees a heavy dose of starts in the offensive zone, where he's more likely to meet some of Adam Oates's bigger bodied competition. Though, it's certainly worth noting that per Andrew Gross, Zuccarello has been practicing on a line with the big guns in Brad Richards and Rick Nash this week.

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