Rangers' Del Zotto sits out, takes a class

Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto, right, checks Calgary

Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto, right, checks Calgary Flames winger Curtis Glencross during the first period. (Nov. 22, 2010) (Credit: Christopher Pasatieri)

OTTAWA - Michael Del Zotto used his seat at Scotiabank Place on Thursday as a classroom desk, writing an evaluation of the Rangers' power play and defense.

The 20-year-old, a healthy scratch for the first time in his blossoming NHL career, was given the homework assignment by assistant coach Mike Sullivan, but the tactic has been used before by coach John Tortorella.

"Not on this team, but with Michael and the situation we're in, we're trying to get him better and more consistent," Tortorella said after a 30-minute practice at Carleton University here before flying to Columbus, Ohio, for Saturday night's game against the Blue Jackets. "It's not so much a grade, but we wanted him to pick apart our power play, pick apart his position, so he's not just sitting up there eating hot dogs. And I know . . . I haven't read it yet, but it was very extensive. So that's good for a young player to watch."

Tortorella said he gave a similar assignment to defenseman Pavel Kubina when he first broke in with Tampa Bay. He also did it with a few players in Rochester when he coached in the American League, including Roman Ndur, who played briefly with the Rangers.

"I can't remember all the names, but we've done it," he said. "Sully's the one who came up with it yesterday. And Michael is cerebral. He sees the ice, so it's good for him. It stimulates him during the game. I know Michael's going to watch. He wants to get better."

Del Zotto, whose attention to defense has caused his offense to suffer, said he was amazed at how slow the pace appeared from his perch. He realized that, for example, he might have a little more time than he thought to make plays.

Del Zotto will return to the lineup, but Derek Boogaard was sent home to have his sprained right shoulder examined. Boogaard left Thursday's game near the end of the first period after a fight with Ottawa's Matt Carkner, who dumped him heavily on the shoulder.

Todd White, who has played only 14 games, will take his place on the fourth line. Boogaard already has missed eight games with hand and shoulder injuries as well as being a healthy scratch.

Defenseman Steve Eminger, whose back was sore after an uncalled third-period trip by Nick Foligno, was kept off the ice. He fell awkwardly into the boards and was walking stiffly Friday. He termed himself day-to-day.

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