Wild Vs. Blues: Zucker Makes Immediate Impact


Apr 11, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues center Jori Lehtera (12) and Minnesota Wild left wing Jason Zucker (16) battle for the puck during the first period at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

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The Minnesota Wild were missing forward Jason Zucker for about two months as Zucker recovered from a clavicle injury. As Zucker got ready to return, there was a concern amongst some that with the Wild playing like the best team in hockey, bringing Zucker and others back into the fold may rock the boat.

Forget that.

With the Wild winning games in bunches, it was easy to forget how well Zucker had been playing until he was injured. Now, Zucker has exploded back onto the scene, making his presence felt most in the opening moments of the Wild’s opening playoff game against the St. Louis Blues. I could try to explain what Zucker did, but let’s just watch it instead:

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As the old adage goes, speed kills and Zucker has plenty to burn. As Chad Graff of the St. Paul Pioneer Press points out, most players would have simply dumped the puck into the zone in that situation. Very few have the speed of Zucker to get around the defenseman and create a scoring opportunity. The other remarkable thing about the goal was Zucker’s ability to corral the rebound cleanly and wrap it into the far side of the net. The degree of difficulty was much higher than Zucker made it look.

As was pointed out during Fox Sports North’s broadcast of Game One, Zucker is in the top five of the NHL this season in goals per 60 minutes played. It is unfortunate that he has had to battle through some injuries the past couple of seasons, but he has been one of the best players on the team when healthy.

The Wild will need to outskate the physical Blues to ultimately win this series. More plays like Zucker’s goal will go a long way towards advancing to the second round of the Western Conference Playoffs.

Game Two is this afternoon in St. Louis. Puck drop is at 2:00 CDT on NBC.

Next: Wild Vs. Blues: Predictions