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Rangers hard at work in preparation for showdown against Boston

Bobby Bevilacqua

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Mats Zuccarello had a big game on Monday, but will need to play more consistently throughout the rest of the season to benefit his team. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The Rangers had a big win on Monday night, extending their modest win streak to two games with a 6-3 victory over the Florida Panthers. The tough competition will continue on Wednesday when the Rangers will take on the Boston Bruins to cap off their four game homestand.

Five different Rangers tallied a goal on Sunday, which was very nice to see from an offense that had been sputtering as of late.

Perhaps the player who needed a big game the most was Mats Zuccarello, and he delivered. Zuccarello picked up a power play assist on Kevin Hayes’ goal, and scored a crucial fifth goal to put the game out of reach. The goal snapped a 10 game goal drought, but he has still scored just twice in the last 21 games.

Zuccarello was shooting a lot more throughout the game, which is nice to see considering how good of a shot he has. His playstyle was much closer to his play from last year, and the results were there as a result. However, the two points gave him a total of 26 (8-18-26) this year, putting him on pace for around 44 points over the same 77 game span as last season, where he tallied 59 points (19-40-59).

With trade rumors floating around, Zuccarello needs to consistently perform like he did on Monday to help both himself and his team. “Zukes” has said on numerous occasions that he wants to remain a Ranger, and Alain Vigneault saying that “Mats is a very good hockey player,” and that he believes that “he can play much better than he has so far this season.” Vigneault wants him to stay, and has full confidence in him.

There are no excuses for him not to perform at a high level, and he can certainly do it. Zuccarello seemed to play a lot better when not on the line with Rick Nash, abandoning the constant pass-first mentality he seemed to have for the past few weeks. Maybe putting him on a line with Chris Kreider will benefit him, while bringing Martin St. Louis up to the top line will help his game as well.

Vigneault also spoke about the rookie Kevin Hayes, and how he has been developing throughout the year. Hayes is learning the hardest position in hockey on the fly at the NHL level, so mistakes are to be expected. But improvement has certainly been showing in Hayes. He is still learning what to do with and without the puck, and when to make certain plays. Hayes is a bright spot on the team, and is up to 18 points (7-11-18) in his rookie season.

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Kevin Hayes has been developing nicely, improving with every game he plays. Hayes still has some things to learn, but is a bright spot out of the Rangers young stars. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

During the press conference, Vigneault explained Henrik Lundqvist’s maintenance day. He is healthy, and will start in net on Wednesday night. Cam Talbot will get a start over the weekend, when the Rangers start back-to-back games beginning in Nashville.

JT Miller and Matt Hunwick skated as extras during practice. With Vigneault sticking with Tanner Glass, the question that remains is what to do with JT Miller. If he will just waste away in the press box on most nights, would it be smarter to trade him?

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Posted on February 4, 2015, in Rangers Updates and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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