Mats Zuccarello does not need to be reminded that he has yet to record a point through five games this season heading into tonight's contest against the Capitals at the Verizon Center. That's because he thinks about it all the time, and is searching non-stop for ways to finally break through.
"I don't think I have ever gone five games in a row with no points, and that's tough as an offensive player," Zuccarello told BlueshirtsUnited.com following the morning skate in Washington. "At the same time, though, I've been creating a lot of chances, and if you create the chances you know it's going to come."
Zuccarello has been averaging more than 17 minutes of ice-time per game, skating among the Top Six forwards and receiving quality power play time, as well. Somehow, he has no goals and no assists. Part of the reason may be some tough "puck luck", as players call it, but the fact that he has recorded only five shots on goal certainly comes into play, too as Zuccarello focuses more on being a playmaker than a finisher.
"I am playing important minutes and I need to show on the (score) board," offered Zuccarello, who was second on the team in post-season scoring last spring with seven points (1-6-7) in 12 games. "It's something I think about, but at the same time if you get too focused on that it's going to ruin your game. It's in he back of my mind, for sure, yeah. But I know it's going to come. Hopefully tonight is the night."
The popular 26 year-old Norwegian will skate tonight with Derek Stepan and Benoit Pouliot. Stepan has five assists through five games, while Pouliot---like Zuccarello---remains scoreless.
Tuesday after practice head coach Alain Vigneault told reporters that certain players---whom he did not name---have received great opportunities in the early part of the season, but if they do not contribute offensively, those minutes and opportunities will go to other players. Zuccarello is well aware that he fits into that category, especially at a time that the Rangers are struggling to replace the missed production with Rick Nash injured and out of the lineup.
"It's hard because I feel like I haven't played bad, I've created a lot of chances, but they haven't gone in so it really hasn't helped (the team"," explained Zuccarello.