Rangers Notebook: Del Zotto working into form
Much like the team he plays for, Michael Del Zotto’s 2013 season is a work in progress.
This, according to noted architect John Tortorella.
“I don’t think anything has really stood out,” Tortorella said prior to Tuesday night’s match against Atlantic Division-rival Philadelphia. “I think he has been working — as far as the physical [element], a lot of us are working at [being] in the end zone because that’s the part of the game that has been really inconsistent.”
Del Zotto has been paired with Marc Staal as the second defensive pair. Del Zotto has also been slotted as the first-unit, power-play quarterback, a quintet that includes Rick Nash, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik. He entered last night’s game with four points (a goal and three assists) in the five games to augment a plus-four rating.
“I think he has thrived playing with the top line,” Tortorella said. “His biggest asset is joining the rush. He’s one of the better ones without the puck joining the rush. We’ve watched him stand still a little bit with the puck. We want him [moving] with the puck, also.”
» Stu Bickel replaced Steve Eminger on defense last night. “Both,” Tortorella said when asked if he wanted Bickel in the lineup for his fistic abilities or to get him going.
» Henrik Lundqvist made his sixth straight start. Entering the game he had a 2-3-0 record with a 3.14 goals against average and .893 save percentage. Outside of 30:42 spanning the second and third period of the home opener against Pittsburgh, No. 2 goaltender Martin Biron has not played.
“We will,” Tortorella said when asked directly by Metro how the organization plans to balance the workload between Lundqvist and Biron.
» Matt Gilroy was a scratch for the sixth straight game, while Chris Kreider has not played since the 4-3 overtime win over Boston on Jan. 23 due to a bone chip in his ankle. “Haven’t talked to Rammer about him yet,” Tortorella said when asked when Kreider would start skating.
» USA Hockey and the Pittsburgh Penguins announced prior to last night’s home game against the Islanders that Consol Energy Center will play host to the second annual CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game on Sept. 26, 2013.
“Pittsburgh is a city filled with passionate hockey fans and we’re extremely pleased to work with USA Hockey in bringing the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game to the CONSOL Energy Center this fall. It will be a unique opportunity for our fans to see the future American stars of the NHL — some which will undoubtedly play in Pittsburgh — all on the same sheet of ice,” Penguins CEO and President David Morehouse said in a joint statement with USA Hockey Executive Director Dave Ogrean. The Buffalo Sabres and the First Niagara Center hosted the first Game on Sept. 29, 2012.
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.