Reliving Rangers: Mika Zibanejad explodes from season long funk over the Flyers to tie NHL record

mika zibanejad extension
Mar 17, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) celebrates his power-play goal at 14:29 of the second period against Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart (79) at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

It took until mid-March but when Mika Zibanejad finally broke out of his slump, he did so with authority by tying an NHL record for most points in one period. That mark was originally set by the Islanders’ Bryan Trottier in 1978. In a second period the Flyers would love to forget, Zibanejad scored a natural hat trick while adding three assists for six points.

Zibanejad later admitted that contracting COVID-19 prior to the start of training camp adversely impacted his conditioning. That trickled down to his game, which eventually led to the slump. From this point on, he would go on an absolute scoring tear to finish the year with 24 goals and 50 points in 56 games.

Mika Zibanejad and Rangers torch the Flyers

mika Zibanejad
Bruce Bennett/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

This was a Garden party for the limited fans in attendance as the Rangers walloped the Flyers by a 9-0 final. Mika Zibanejad who was this season’s poster boy for slumping and being unlucky exploded to double his goal total to six on the season. It was long overdue for the center and his team.

“Everyone is going to go back to last season and the expectation is obviously higher, but if the puck doesn’t want to go in it doesn’t want to go in,” Zibanejad said. “I’ve been trying to get myself through this and it hasn’t been easy, but it is what it is. It’s one game, but I feel like the game just overall has been feeling a little bit better for the past little bit here. Production is a big part of it when you get the ice time I’ve been getting and the role that I have, but as long as we keep winning then I’m happy.”

Rangers coaching staff on COVID protocol

Prior to the game the team was shocked to learn that David Quinn, their head coach tested positive and was placed on the COVID protocol list. That wasn’t all as the entire coaching staff was added to it and unavailable to coach the game. That forced their AHL affiliate’s head coach Kris Knoblauch into action as a fill in.

“It happens very quickly,” Knoblauch said. “Getting the call at 11:30 that you might be. I rush home and pack. Initially it was going to be one game, but then they’re like, ‘Well, you might be going on the road trip,’ so then you pack extra. Really, you didn’t have much time to think about it. Everything was laid out for us by the coaching staff and when the game started there are some nerves, definitely some excitement, but then you’ve got to get into game mode, coach mode. It’s certainly a night that I’ll never forget.”

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Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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