"There were some games where he was tentative physically and a little tentative with the puck," Schoenfeld said. "Then every time I would come back and watch them (in Hartford), he would look a little better and a little more comfortable. Then two weeks later, he would be more assertive to the point where when we needed a defenseman, there wasn't even a question.
"When he came up, he just continued his growth and was the biggest surprise of the season as far as where he ended up because defense is a very difficult position. Experience is a very valuable teacher for all players, but especially for defensemen, and he didn't have the luxury of time to gain the experience. It was partway through the season that he was cast into a very important role in New York, and I thought he acquitted himself very well."
...there were plenty of pleasant surprises this season, but for me the biggest was the way the rookies assimilated into the NHL environment so quickly. It is so impressive how Stepan, McD, Sauer and MZA were able to have so much success so quickly. Now we have to hope there's no let down next season. We've already seen sophomore slumps from Dubinsky and Del Zotto, so let's hope the Rangers have learned how to bring rookies along even further during their second season.
guy like st. louis, sullivan, fleury, etc have thrived in this league because they were fast, quick and tenacious. i see those qualities in MZA as well and expect him to be a productive member of the team next year.
Yeah, King, I agree. I wish he was bigger too, but that's not gonna happen. I thought he forechecked well, he was very slippery and had good along the boards with much bigger players. He also seemed to be comfortable going to traffic to make plays--something a lot of small guys who are used to playing on larger surfaces have trouble with. Hopefully he gets there! Would love to see him reach his potential as a poorman's Marty St. Louis. We could really use his creativity on the PP!
I know MZA slowed down a lot after a good start, but I'm hopeful for his future with the team. He seemed to handle the physical game pretty well despite his stature and he showed flashes of real creativity. What do you think? Can he be a 25 goal/60 point guy in this league? He has the skill and seems to have a good head on his shoulders and a fair amount of tenacity.
@cb1 Well if it depends what you mean by productive. I'd be happy if he got 15 goals 25 assists. or somewhere in the 40-50 point range, anything more than that Rangers would be very happy about. MZA reminds me of Matteau, hard working, constant checking, and driving towards the net. I see him as one of the necessary role players on this team moving forward,
@JamesU If only Zuccarello was a little bit bigger. In the Caps series we had to send him back, it just got too physical for him. Is there a place for him on the team? Yes. But he will have to earn it. MZA is talented and hopefully he doesn't start pressing. He has a great set of hands, has the speed, forechecking ability, and if he can learn somehow to make his presence known even in the most physical of games. That's why I think we need a big guy on the ice to protect him almost like a Mcilrath or laugh when I say this Derek Boogard.