Written by: Alexa Potack 

It’s been known for a bit of time now that the NYR management pulled off a steal in the Brassard-Zibanejad swap but this season has brought it to a new extent.

Mika Zibanejad is proving his star power on the ice, earning public praise from his teammates and coaches all season long, and recently from fellow Swedes, Niklas Backstrom, Oliver Ekman Larsson, and Victor Hedman.

In addition, his leadership on and off the ice became even more apparent, making the argument for him to wear the “C” even stronger.

In honor of his incredible run, here are his top five performances of the 2019-20 season (with hopefully more to come).

5) March 1, 2020, vs Philadelphia Flyers (5-3 Loss)

Despite the loss and poor overall performance by the Blueshirts, Zibanejad was a light in the darkness. His performance stood out as he had a point on all of New York’s goals, scoring two of them. All three of the Rangers’ goals from this game came on the power play.

Additionally, Zibanejad recorded 6 shots on goal, leading the team.

4) February 19, 2020, at Chicago Blackhawks (6-3 Win)

This is for most NHL players, a four-point night would be their highlight of the season. This, however, is “the worst” of Zibanejad’s four or more point performances this season, so it slots in at 4.

He recorded one goal and two primary assists at even strength and picked up a secondary assist on the power play.

3) October 3, 2019, vs. Winnipeg Jets (6-4 Win)

If there’s a way to start the season, it’s certainly like this. Generally, when a roster experiences a shakeup as NYR has through the rebuild, it takes time to build chemistry but Zibanejad proved that false. He was the primary assist on Artemi Panarin’s first goal in a Rangers uniform and was assisted by the other large offseason acquisition, Jacob Trouba, on his own first goal of the season.

On top of that, he recorded primary assists on the first and last NYR goals of the game, by Marc Staal and Brendan Smith, respectively.

2) October 5, 2019, at Ottawa Senators (4-1 Win)

As if his season opener wasn’t a solid enough performance for the week, he wanted to bring the heat to another home opener, his former team’s. Scoring on each shot he took that night, Mika Zibanejad scored his third career hat trick and even added an assist on the other NYR goal of the night, scored by Panarin, to boot.

This type of dominance all compiled into one week (or three days) earned him the NHL’s “First Star of the Week” award to open the season.

1) March 5, 2020 vs. Washington Capitals (6-5 Win)

Bet nobody saw this coming… There’s really not too much to be said here, this performance truly left fans, teammates, and pretty much anyone in or around hockey speechless.

Not having playoff hockey these past two seasons has deprived Rangers fans of the adrenaline rush that comes with such incredible games. That void was clearly filled by a game that most Rangers fans will remember as one of the best individual performances in franchise history.

Zibanejad became the third player in Rangers history to net five goals in one game and only the 4th player in the league to do so since 1997.

Honorable Mentions

All in all, it’s clear that Mika Zibanejad is a player that everyone’s eyes should be on. A little fun fact: #93 has more three or more point games that Nathan MacKinnon!
Mika Magic is real folks, and hopefully, we all get to see some more of it sooner rather than later!

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