DENVER----Rookie Michael Del Zotto is wearing down, and needs a rest. But the Rangers coaching staff will try to guide the 19-year-old defenseman through to the Olympic break, which begins Feb. 14. That’s six more games.

“I think a break for him is going to be very important,” said coach John Tortorella, “along with a couple of other guys who aren’t used to playing as many games.” Although he didn’t name him, Tortorella was likely referring to Matt Gilroy, one year out of Boston University.

As for Del Zotto, Tortorella said that the coaching staff has been speaking with him daily, as well as during games.

“We’ve got to try to help him out here, to get him to the Olympic break,” Tortorella said. “It’s been a struggle for him, he was front and center on a couple of (goals) Saturday night. We don’t want him to lose his swagger, but we have to be careful. We did a pretty good job of trying to bit-and-piece him through the game until the third. We don’t want to keep putting him into a situation where it snowballs on him. So we are monitoring that.”

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Del Zotto, who started strong and was rookie of the month in October, had just a goal and assist in the last 23 games. For the season, he is 6-18-24 and a minus-18.

“It’s not just short-term, it’s long-term. Young kids are going to slide during the season, but you don’t want to knock them down,” said Tortorella. “I think he’s got a great mind as far as seeing the game. I think he’s got a special kind of mental toughness. ”
 
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