He may not be centering the top line, but Mika Zibanejad has no issue with his current spot on the Rangers' depth chart.
After scoring the empty-netter to seal Monday's 4-2 win over the Senators, the 25-year-old said he's more than happy matching up against opponents' top units with linemates Vlad Namestnikov and Jesper Fast.
"It makes me proud to know that the coaching staff has that kind of trust in me and our line," Zibanejad told Larry Brooks of the New York Post. "It's a pride thing for us."
The Zibanejad line hasn't exactly been lighting up the scoreboard, however. Zibanejad's empty-netter broke a seven-game goal drought; Namestnikov has one goal in his last 14 games and Fast hasn't scored since opening night.
But that hasn't fazed the Swedish centerman.
"There are different ways a player or a line can contribute to a team," said Zibanejad, who is tied with Chris Kreider with a team-high 21 points. "At the same time, you don't want to settle for just playing well defensively.
"We had our best games against the other team's top lines when we possessed the puck a lot. The last couple of games before this one, we were too worried about checking and playing defense. So I came into this game - and we did as a line - with the mind set of being more offensive." (NY Post)
Rangers coach David Quinn said he's been able to rely on No. 93 against some of the league's most skilled players.
"Mika has embraced the role," Quinn said.