Michael Del Zotto was the last Ranger off the ice this afternoon at Scotia Bank Place and walked wearily into the visitors' dressing room. The 20-year-old, who has been struggling in his second NHL season, will watch tonight's game in street clothes.
"I'll be watching pretty much everything, seeing how guys compete every single shift," he said. "It’s a learning curve for me, something that hasn’t happened in my career yet, every day I’m just trying to get better, just trying to improve my game....I elarned a lot last year, but every day I have something to learn."
Matt Gilroy will skate with Michael Sauer on the third pair, while Steve Eminger slides into Del Zotto's spot with Michal Rozsival.
"I think I improved on the defensive side," said Del Zotto, who is 2-6-8 after a 9-28-37 effort last season. "But I can’t let it affect my offensive side. That’s one reason I’m here is to contribute offensively...It’s frustrating not being able to contribute, you’ve gotta put points up."
The benching "is going to make me work that much harder …It happens and I've got to make the most of this experience. I’ve only played one year in the league, I'm not a guy like Dru who knows the ins and outs. It’s going to take a few years before everything falls into place. I can’t expect to be perfect every day, nobody's perfect. There’s going to be bumps in the road, you just have to make the most of them."