Mats Zuccarello's Christmas gift is a game at MSG. The 23-year-old, 5-7 forward, called by Rangers assistant GM Jim Schoenfeld "more creative than many" NHLers, debuts tonight against Tampa, as previously reported here and twitter.com/stevezipay.
He said he knew the NHL would be different than Sweden in training camp, but is adjusting, perhaps a bit slower than he expected, but is 11-11-22 in his last 20 in the AHL.
“It’s been better for the whole team down there and when the team is playing good, everybody plays good... I’m more used to the style and more comfortable on the ice. Everything is so much more intense on the smaller surface....It’s tough when you came from a full possession, but not that intense, game to everybody punching each other and hitting you. I’ve gotten some checks now and then.”
Zuccarello's not looking farther than tonight, although I suspect a very good performance might mean a second game at MSG, against the Isles on Monday, even if Marian Gaborik's groin is less sore. The Rangers will still be shy a No. 2 RW without Ryan Callahan (broken hand).