by Patrick Hoffman on 12/23/10 at 11:21 AM ET
Going into a crucial game at Madison Square Garden tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the odds are already stacked against the Blueshirts with both Marian Gaborik (groin) and Michael Del Zotto (flu) out of the lineup.
To help fill the void, the team has called up Mats Zuccarello Aasen to take Gaborik’s spot. In 32 games with the club’s American Hockey League farm team, the Connecticut Whale, Zuccarello Aasen has 24 points (13 goals and 11 assists) in 32 games.
While he has been somewhat inconsistent at the AHL level, Zuccarello Aasen had recorded points in five of his last six games with four goals and four assists and has also put up 22 points in his last 20 games. As such, he is coming to the Blueshirts having played some of his best hockey in the AHL.
With that said, however, the NHL is a different animal and it will be interesting to see what Zuccarello Aasen does to adjust his game to fit the NHL style. According to Andrew Gross of Ranger Rants, Rangers’ head coach John Tortorella knows that he needs to put Zuccarello Aasen in a position to create offense.
Tortorella said he had not yet formulated a lineup plan yet because he learned about Gaborik just prior to practice. However, he knows he has to get the 5-foot-7 Zuccarello in offensive situations, meaning he’ll almost assuredly skate on one of the top two lines, most likely the second line.
At the same time, Rangers’ forward Brian Boyle acknowledged that he doesn’t know what Zuccarello Aasen’s game is going to be like at the NHL level.
“It’s obvious he has all that skill,” said Rangers center Brian Boyle, recalling Zuccarello’s training camp performance. “He has hands, he makes plays, he has vision. You could tell he wanted to learn the game. With bigger guys and a more physical game, it’s probably tough (to adjust). It’s just a timing thing.”
Looking at the game as a whole, it is important that both Zuccarello Aasen and the Blueshirts start playing well on home ice and picking up two points whenever they can.
Tonight would be the perfect time to get started.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.