Bock’s Score: Z-Span is Historic

Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire

In their nearly 100-year history, the New York Rangers have had some prolific goal scorers.

In the beginning, there were the Cook Brothers, Bill and Bun, who were the team’s first stars. Later there was Jaromir Jagr, whose 54 goals in 2005-2006 is the team’s single season record topping Adam Graves, who had 52 in 1993-94. The GAG Line In the ‘60s and ‘70s, with Rod Gilbert, Vic Hadfield, and Jean Ratelle, combined for 139 goals in 1971-72, when Hadfield became the team’s first 50-goal scorer.

None of them, however, accomplished what Mika Zibanejad accomplished last week. He had six points in consecutive games against the Philadelphia Flyers—a pair of hat tricks, accompanied by assists on three other Ranger goals. Six points in each of two straight games was a remarkable accomplishment, considering that no Ranger in team history had ever managed two six-point games in the same season much less in consecutive games.

Zibanejad also became the first NHL player to have a pair of six-point games against the same opponent in consecutive regular-season games.

Zibanejad’s scoring bursts came in consecutive blowouts, 9-0 and 8-3 – separated by eight days when a game in between those two against Boston was canceled due to COVID-19 protocols. It was no surprise then that Zibanejad scored the first goal in the Rangers’ next game, against Philadelphia, of course. That gave him 16 points in a six-game stretch, also amazing considering that he couldn’t buy a goal earlier in the season.

Zibanejad’s early season dry spell was disappointing and surprising considering what he did for New York last March 5th when he scored five goals in a game against Washington. The Rangers won that game 6-5 on a goal 33 seconds into overtime on a goal by – you guessed it— Zibanejad.

And, by the way, that five-goal game last season and his consecutive hat trick, six-point games this season were not his greatest personal highlight.

Drafted by Ottawa with the sixth pick in the 2011 draft, the Swedish native was still 18 years old when he made his NHL debut with an assist – the youngest player in Senators’ history and the youngest Swede in NHL history to do so. He played nine games before being returned to Djurgardens, his Swedish league under 18 and under 20 club. That freed him to play in the 2012 World Junior Championships.

When the championship game against Russia was scoreless after 60 minutes and stretched into overtime, Zibanejad scored the winning goal giving Sweden its first World Junior Championship in 31 years.

Now that was really a personal highlight.

About the Author

Hal Bock

Hal Bock is a contributor with NY Sports Day. He has covered sports for 40 years at The Associated Press including 30 World Series, 30 Super Bowls and 11 Olympics. He is the author of 14 books including most recently The Last Chicago Cubs Dynasty and Banned Baseball's Blacklist of All-Stars and Also-Rans. He has written scores of magazine articles and served as Journalist In Residence at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus where he also served on the selection committee for the George Polk Awards.

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