Inside Numbers: Rangers can still win without Mats Zuccarello, it just won’t be easy
The Rangers will be without Mats Zuccarello for the foreseeable future as we learned today that he is out indefinitely with an upper body injury. The cause? A possible concussion thanks to a slapshot off his helmet.
So let’s just look at the Rangers record when Zuccarello scores a point and when he doesn’t. Mats played in 78 contests this season, he recorded at least one point in 39 of them.
NYR RECORD when Zuccarello gets point(s): 29-6-4
NYR RECORD when Zuccarello gets no points: 24-16-3
NYR RECORD when Zuccarello out of lineup: 1-2-1
Before we move on, let’s note the games without Mats in the lineup for some context. The first missed game was on 10/12/14 against the Leafs in the third game of the season and was a loss. The next time was on 11/3/14 versus the Blues and the Rangers lost in OT. It should be noted that the Rangers were dealing with many injuries and trying to get it all figured out. If you recall, before the Rangers 8 game winning streak starting in December, their record was 7-7-2.
Zuccarello missed two games on April 7th and 9th after the Rangers had already clinched the top spot in the league. The Blueshirts with nothing to play for went 1-1 in those contests. So the under .500 stat for those 4 games are a bit misleading.
There is no denying that Mats Zuccarello’s loss to the lineup will hurt. It’s apparent especially when he registers a point. Still, on the nights he couldn’t produce offensively the Rangers were able to win 8 more games then they lost.
He is a complete player, what many people call a “200′ Player”. Meaning that he plays both ends of the ice extremely well and that can’t be replaced by James Sheppard or anyone else they call up from Hartford.
[su_quote cite=”NY POST” url=”http://nypost.com/2015/04/27/rangers-zuccarello-out-indefinitely-with-suspected-concussion/”]“He brings a lot to the table, the way he plays, a lot of energy,” goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. “He can open up a game with his passing. So we’re going to miss that. We don’t know when he’s going to be back. We’ll have to wait and see. He’s definitely an important player for this team.”[/su_quote]
However, the Rangers have gotten production throughout the lineup this season and that continued in the playoffs. The key to surviving his absence is the offensive contributions (aka: secondary scoring) they can muster going forward. When we look at players that can elevate their play to compensate for Zuccarello’s loss we start with Kevin Hayes, Carl Hagelin and J.T. Miller.
These three young players are the key to minimizing Zucc’s absence. They’ll have to elevate their game to support the big guns like Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis if they can’t get into a rhythm offensively. So far in round 1, all three forwards are making their presence known.
Kevin Hayes: 1G (OT) on 10 SOG
Carl Hagelin: 2G, 1A (Series OT clincher) on 11 SOG
J.T. Miller: 1A on 9 SOG
Every team has to deal with injuries in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In round one, the Rangers were without Kevin Klein and beat the Penguins in 5 games. If the Islanders get into the next round, they may be doing so without 3 of their top 6 defensemen. This is life in the NHL, especially in the post season.