Rangers: Mika Zibanejad seems to finally be breaking out of his slump

New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) scores a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers in the first period at Wells Fargo Center
Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

Almost everything has been perfect for the New York Rangers to begin the 2023-24 season. The Blueshirts have a healthy lead on the Metropolitan Division and are third overall in the entire NHL. While wins have been constantly flowing and many players are finding success, there is still room for improvement.

Mika Zibanejad has once again been having a slower start to the year. He’s been elite on special teams, but there was a very noticeable lack of even-strength production from his game. Slow starts are common for Zibanejad, but it seems as if things are finally turning around for the veteran forward.

Zibanejad scores twice for the Rangers at even strength against the Flyers

In yesterday’s matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers, Zibanejad managed to find the back of the net twice at 5v5. These two goals were just his second and third even-strength goals so far this season, as he had gone 17 straight games without scoring at 5v5.

This is exactly what Zibanejad has been missing to start the season. He’s been producing on the power play consistently and has even been one of the Rangers’ best defensive forwards through eighteen games played. With 5v5 production seemingly finding its way back into Zibanejad’s game, he might finally reach his full potential almost a quarter of the way through the year.

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A positive mindset for Zibanejad

It’s no secret that Zibanejad needs to score more at even strength, and even the star forward is aware of the problems he faces. Confidence is key when trying to find success on the ice, and he’s admitted that he’s been rattled a bit due to this scoring drought.

“I don’t think I’ve been rattled the same way,” he said of dealing with the scoring drought. “And then we’re winning games. Yes, I want to score. I think everyone wants to score. But as long as you’re winning games, I think that allows you to just worry about the process.”

Mika Zibanejad via Vince Mercogliano of Lohud

It’s essential that Zibanejad keeps this positive mindset while trying to get back in the groove. He’s right when he says the Rangers have continued to win even without his even-strength scoring, so he’s able to trust the process and adjust to the Blueshirts’ new play style implemented by head coach Peter Laviolette. Zibanejad will find his game, as he always does — he just needs to stay confident and take each game as a new opportunity to score.