Mika Zibanejad comes to Kaapo Kakko’s defense

Mika Zibanejad, the alternate captain of the New York Rangers, doesn’t have the loudest voice in the dressing room. He prefers to quietly observe and process information. Therefore, when Zibanejad speaks up, his words tend to be carefully considered and measured. During a recent discussion about his line’s lack of offensive production, Zibanejad provided thoughtful insights into why it’s not a cause for excessive concern.

Zibanejad addressed the criticism aimed at his young teammate, Kaapo Kakko, by explaining that it’s unfair to single him out. He also analyzed the performance of his line. The trio’s defensive prowess is impressive, allowing only one goal against in over 119 minutes of ice time. Despite their strong possession metrics, they only managed to score twice in 49 shots.

Speaking on the broader perspective of the team’s performance, especially at the beginning of the season, Zibanejad emphasized the importance of creating chances, over solely focusing on scoring. When the team’s offense isn’t clicking, they must ensure they maintain a solid defensive approach.

The recent line change, incorporating veteran Blake Wheeler in place of Kakko, brought little change to their offensive output. The team has been focused on entering the offensive zone with possession, as Zibanejad underscored the importance of initiating offensive rushes from the middle of the ice.

Despite the mounting frustration due to the lack of goals, Zibanejad remains composed, drawing from his own experience of a slow start last season. He believes that hard work and perseverance will ultimately be rewarded.

Vincent Z. Mercogliano covers the New York Rangers beat for the USA TODAY Network. For additional content, visit lohud.com/sports/rangers/ and follow him on Twitter @vzmercogliano.


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