It’s been some run for Mika Zibanejad, and now he’s atop an impressive list in the Rangers’ history book.
The top-line center broke a franchise record when he contributed on the ninth and 10th consecutive goals for the Rangers during their 4-3 overtime loss to the Kings on Monday night at the Garden. The streak goes back to the Jan. 19 game in Boston just before the break, extended when he assisted on Chris Kreider’s game-opening goal and then got his own 21st of the season at 32 seconds of the second period. It ended when Adam McQuaid got an unassisted goal at 9:15 of the third.
Zibanejad now has at least one point in nine of the past 11 games, with 10 goals and eight assists during that streak. He also set career highs with his team-leading 31 assists and 52 points.
His line with Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello is also carrying all of the offensive load, 39 points (18 goals, 21 assists) in the last eight games when all three players were in the lineup (Zuccarello missed one game with a foot infection). It’s nice to have a top line, but the rest of the forwards are producing almost nothing.
“Guys have to be better,” coach David Quinn said. “Guys get plenty of chances and plenty of ice time. They have to take advantage of it.”
Defenseman Freddy Claesson joined his team in a non-contact jersey for Monday’s morning skate, the first time he’s been with the team since suffering a right-shoulder injury against the Islanders on Jan. 12. He admitted that he has a target date in mind for his return to the lineup.
“I would say not this week, but the week after that. Probably the Winnipeg game would be good to go,” he said, referring to next Tuesday’s game in frigid Manitoba that opens a four-game road trip. “We’ll see. Feels pretty good.”
Quinn dressed seven defensemen and 11 forwards again for the second time in four games. The coach has said he “doesn’t love” the unorthodox setup, but his team did play a good game with that lineup when it lost 1-0 to the Flyers on Jan. 29, the first game out of the break.
“I’m liking it a little more,” Quinn said. “I just think it’s our best lineup tonight. I guess I am getting more comfortable with the seven ‘D’.”
Tony DeAngelo came back into the lineup following a two-game stretch as a healthy scratch due to a “maturity issue,” according to Quinn. He replaced winger Cody McLeod.
“Tony has played well,” said Quinn, who put DeAngelo back on the top pair next to Marc Staal. “To me, it’s dressing your best 18. Ideally, it’s 12 forwards and six ‘D’, but sometimes that’s not the case.”
This post was originally posted at https://nypost.com/2019/02/05/mika-zibanejad-writes-his-name-into-rangers-history-book/. WGEH does not own this content and is not responsible for it.