It’s the second consecutive Memorable Monday of the summer to profile a Swedish rookie’s first NHL goal. Last week we reviewed Jakob Silfverberg
’s first and today we’re going to be taking a look at Mika Zibanejad
’s first career tally at the NHL level.
With the injury to Jason Spezza creating a hole in the Sens lineup, Zibanejad — Ottawa’s first pick in the 2011 Entry Draft — got the call to join the big club. In his first game against the Washington Capitals he was named the first star for a solid debut and efforts that yielded an assist. While it would have been easy to suggest he couldn’t top that first game, he found a way, using his second game to get a major career milestone out of the way.
Taking a power play shift between Jakob Silfverberg and Colin Greening, Zibanejad set up camp at the top of the circle to Habs goalie Peter Budaj’s right side. After taking a drop pass from Greening, Zibanejad walked in, wound up and blasted a shot underneath Montreal’s Alexei Emelin, which generated a big bounce that found the top shelf. A big shot coupled with screens from Emelin and Silfverberg meant Budaj had no chance and Zibanejad had a puck to mount on his wall.
Take a look...
At season’s end, Zibanejad was amongst the top rookies in the NHL, posting 20 points in 42 games. That pace would have left him with roughly 39 points over an 82 game season — a solid total, especially considering he turned 20 years old in mid-April. With a year of NHL experience under his belt and — assuming the Sens stay relatively healthy in 2013-14 — potentially softer matchups than he was forced to face at centre, Zibanejad could be poised to take a big step forward next season.
While the so-called sophomore jinx may loom large in the minds of some, there was plenty to like from Zibanejad as a rookie and plenty more room for optimism going forward.
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