Written By Giles Ferrell (ZoneCoverage.com)
It was Dec. 4 against Vancouver. Jason Zucker had scored a goal late in the second period to give the Minnesota Wild a 3-2 lead. The goal — Zucker’s ninth of the season — went on to be the game-winner for the Wild winger as he celebrated his second goal in as many games.
Since that goal against the Canucks a month ago, Zucker has endured a long drought and has just tallied one goal in the following 13 games. He has moved around on lines during Bruce Boudreau‘s infamous line juggling, with him currently playing alongside Mikko Koivu and Nino Niederreiter — who is also in a bit of a slump.
Should you be concern about this slump from Zucker, who tallied a career-best 33 goals last season?
Let’s see what the stats have to say about this.
First, Zucker is familiar with long scoring droughts. You may remember his 2017-18 season as his best — which it was — tallying the before-mentioned 33 goals. During that season — which netted him a brand-new five-year contract this past summer — Zucker did suffer through a stretch of just one goal over a 16-game period.
Ironically, that also came roughly at the same time as the one he is currently in, as that 16-game stretch took place between Dec. 10, 2017 through Jan. 10, 2018. But once he scored a goal on Jan. 13, he went on to score one goal in four straight games and seven of the next nine games to get his season back on track.
Now that we know Zucker is no stranger to these prolonged slumps, let’s see if he is shooting more or less than he was in previous seasons.
Zucker’s shots per game are up this season, as it sits currently at a career best of 2.93. During the past 13 games in which he has only tallied that one goal — against Dallas on Dec. 22 — Zucker has increased his shooting rates averaging over 3.6 shots per game in that time.
Basically what you are seeing in the above charts is that Zucker is creating plenty of shots from right out front of the net when he is on the ice. Whether it is him shooting or someone else on Minnesota, the Wild are creating a lot of high-danger scoring chances when No. 16 is on the ice. That is what you want from a player even though he is still mired in a slump.
Zucker’s shooting percentage this season — 8.5 — is down significantly from last season’s 14.9.
Zucker’s shooting percentage at 5-on-5 (7.16) is not that significantly down from last season (8.68) but still a noticeable dip nonetheless. His shooting percentage this season at 5-on-5 is the lowest of his career, dating back to his debut in the 2012-13 season when he really broke in.
Even Zucker’s power-play shooting percentage (12 percent) is not that horribly down from last year’s (14.2 percent) while getting pretty similar power-play time per game — just a shade over two minutes per game.
But again, if you refer back to where his shots are coming from in the chart above, it is only a matter of time before Zucker busts out of his goal-scoring drought. If you keep getting shots in that area, eventually the puck will start going in again. It is just simply a matter of time.
Great pass from Granlund
Great move by Zucker
Great save by DeSmith pic.twitter.com/KmpHdGA6LU
— Giles Ferrell (@gilesferrell) January 1, 2019
The bottom line is this: no, you should not be too worried about the goal-scoring drought Zucker is currently under. He is taking more shots and getting great looks, the puck isn’t just finding its way into the net.
If history repeats itself again this year, Zucker could go on a terrific run once he gets that first goal to end the drought.