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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Rangers' Mats Zuccarello: The Hobbit Returns

By on 3/06/2014 02:30:00 PM

The New York Rangers are a better team than they were before 3:00pm on Wednesday, and if the news coming out of Madison Square Garden is true, they will be even better on Friday night.

With professional pest Derek Dorsett returning from a broken leg earlier in the week and the trade deadline acquisition of scoring machine Martin St. Louis from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday, the Rangers were already exponentially better for their stretch run towards the playoffs...

...and now with word that winger Mats Zuccarello is scheduled to return to the lineup on Friday, they suddenly look deep and talented enough to make a deep run in the post-season.

Zuccarello suffered a non-displaced fracture in his left hand in the Olympics, the Norweigian taking a puck off the hand in the 3-1 win over Austria in the preliminary round of the tournament - but now it's just a matter of pain management and the Rangers' leading scorer is back in action.

“I think he’s day-to-day now,” Rangers' coach Alain Vigneault offered on Wednesday “ but it’s just a pain thing. As soon as he’s able to handle the pain taking a pass, and as you can see, he can shoot the puck right now. So as soon as he can handle the pain, he’ll be able to go. It should not be long.”

Conditioning won't be an issue with the man that Rangers' fans have dubbed " The Hobbit", due to his demure stature, as he has been skating for a week-and-a-half.

"I just want to skate so I don't lose everything," Zuccarello said upon returning to the ice,"There's going to be a lot of practices like this. Not much but you get excited when you're out there. It's gotten better than it was."

With the return of Dorsett and the acquisition of St. Louis, it is uncertain where Zuccarello will fit in when he returns, given the firepower on the roster - which is a problem that many teams wish they had.


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