Mika Zibanejad Knows He Has to be Better

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Ranger’s Center has continued to struggle as the team seeks a potential new linemate at the trade deadline.

Related Post: NHL Trade Deadline: Rangers Acquire Alex Wennberg From Kraken

Mika Zibanejad has brought his sharpshooting skills to the Rangers for the better part of 8 seasons now. The Swedish forward is currently their top line center and has previously been a reliable source of offense and often the finisher of great passes and plays from his wingers. This season, however, Zibanejad has looked like a shadow of his former self many times. Particularly at five-on-five play, his line has struggled to produce offensively, and Zibanejad himself has not scored a five-on-five goal since December. He has 19 total goals on the season so far, 8 of which have come at full strength. The Rangers as a team have struggled at full strength, not quite matching the scoring abilities of their power play and four-on-four play. The team has had successful production from the Panarin, Trochek, Lafrenière line throughout the season, and have additionally had depth scoring from numerous teammates. Despite the scoreboard often reflecting success, Zibanejad’s play has not been producing consistently and tallying the points Rangers fans are used to seeing.

Regardless of Zibanejad’s struggles, the Rangers have consistently been one of the best teams in the league. That being said, the Stanley Cup Playoffs are an entirely different animal to the regular season. With the current number one team in the league, the Florida Panthers, having just added forward Vladimir Tarasenko to their arsenal, the Rangers will need as much offensive help as they can get if they want to make a deep playoff run. There’s been talk of potential moves from the Rangers to obtain a winger to play on the Zibanejad-Kreider line. The duo of Zibanejad and Kreider have seen various linemates over the past couple of seasons, including Tarasenko, Patrick Kane, Kaapo Kakko, Jimmy Vesey, and Will Cuylle. Despite trying different line combinations this year, the five-on-five play has continued to lack production. A winger with playoff experience and offensive skill (think Jake Guentzel) could provide a spark to get this line going.

Zibanejad takes pride in playing with heart and with a focus on all aspects of the game. He often provides smart puck control and contributes to the power play and four-on-four scenarios. He has a high hockey IQ that’s been invaluable to the Rangers, and he has become an example of leadership and character for his teammates. If anyone knows how important it is to get his game back on track, it’s Mika Zibanejad. After all the success the Rangers have enjoyed this season, it’s hard to imagine that Zibanejad, or any of his teammates, would be satisfied with a short playoff run. If Zibanejad can net that elusive five-on-five goal, his confidence will be boosted, and as the team begins to prepare for the playoffs, his motivation and desire for success should raise him to the standard he’s previously set for himself. Historically, Zibanejad has had strong March performances. Some Rangers fans have even dubbed it “Mika March.” I don’t think the old Mika is too far gone, and when he finds himself, the Rangers will be that much more of a threat

In this week's episode we talk about Schnieder, Lindgren's future with NYR, and with Drury seemingly done with off seaon moves the outlook of this team.How to support us and our sponsors:Columbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITRThanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
  1. Running it Back
  2. Guest Will Wright
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  4. Guest Colin Stephenson
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