Mats Zuccarello (34) is among the hottest players in the NHL with goal points in ten games in a row, but he also gets a lot of praise for his leadership qualities. Last night it was victory again.
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With two goals (one goal and one goal assist) away against the New York Rangers Friday night, Mats Zuccarello wrote club history as the first player in Minnesota Wild’s 22-year NHL history to score two goals or more in six straight games .
At the same time, Zuccarello has now scored goals in ten games in a row. Both series are personal records for the Norwegian, and with ten games in a row with goal points, he is only two games behind the club record of Mikael Granlund.
The night’s match against the New York Islanders ended without points for the Norwegian, but Wild won 4-3 away and thus holds the third place in the division that provides playoff games.
Zuccarello is also for the first time in his NHL career heading towards a season with over one goal point on average per game. After 33 games, he stands with 40 goal points (13 goals and 27 assists).
– What you do not see are his leadership qualities. He speaks in the right places, and when he speaks, the others listen. He says the right things, and to support it with the work effort … It is one thing to work one way, but it is another to work backwards to your own zone. He has been doing it all year, and he is obviously a leader of our hockey club in all areas, coach Dean Evason said at a press conference after the game against the New York Rangers.
Zuccarello joined the Minnesota Wild in the summer of 2019. Evason was then the assistant coach for the club and has been the head coach since February 2020.
In Zuccarello’s first two seasons for the club, it was only three times he played over 20 minutes in a match of 118 games. This season, he has been on the ice nine times in 33 games for over 20 minutes.
According to Evason, it is Zuccarello who has “forced” them to give him so much ice time, due to the good game.
Another who is in the flow zone for Wild at the moment is Kevin Fiala. He also has goal points in ten games in a row, and last night he took points in his eleventh game in a row.
In the match against the New York Rangers, the New York team led 2-0 after the first period. In the break before the second period, Zuccarello was among those who are said to have spoken about the state of affairs.
– He’s a nice guy. A funny guy. Everyone in the wardrobe loves him. When it does not work, as today, he can stand up and be serious. He’s just a nice guy. As you get to know him, you can see that he is a really nice guy and quite soft on the inside, said a smiling Fiala after the match.
Zuccarello himself toned down the meaning of his own words during the break against Rangers, but is aware that he thrives very well in Minnesota during the day.
The explanation for the points records was also of the simple kind:
– The team is doing well. You get confidence from your teammates when the team is doing well, Zuccarello said.
Viaplay’s expert commentator Ole Eskild Dahlstrøm, like Evason, admires the team player «Zucca».
– Mats is a team player with the biggest, fattest l you can get, he says.
– He’s a superstar. A superstar without star nods, Dahlstrøm continues.
Dahlstrøm believes Zuccarello’s work effort means that his teammates prick up their ears when the Norwegian speaks.
– Mats is the whole package, and when you raise your hand, people listen. He is a leader in the team, but as much in the way he plays as he says.