NEWARK--- For the first time this season, defenseman Michael Del Zotto is a healthy scratch.

            “In our first five games, we had one where I was pleased with how our six d had played and that was the L.A. game, (a 3-1 win)” said head coach Alain Vigneault said after a full morning skate, minus the injured Rick Nash and Ryan Callahan. “The three after that, I could’ve taken any defenseman out; they’d given up 20 goals in three games. Michael was sick, and we went into Washington and we played our best game of the year (a 2-0 win) as far as our group of six defensemen. Nobody deserved to come out.”  

              Del Zotto, 23, who is pointless with just seven shots and is a minus-6 in five games, admitted he was “not happy” with his play, but did not feel that he was singled out. “That whole West coast swing (when the Rangers were 1-4) wasn’t the way we wanted it to go.”

            Justin Falk again was in Del Zotto’s spot on the third pair with John Moore. “You want to take advantage of it,” said Falk.  

           “We had a big win last game against Washington, and he didn’t see a need to switch lineups. It’s his decision, said Del Zotto. “I’m just going about my business, working hard and trying to get better. All I can control is how hard I work, and try to work my way back in. You always want to play; you work this hard your whole life to play, not to watch.”


             As the 2-4 Rangers aim for a second consecutive win, Mats Zuccarello, on a line with Derek Stepan and J.T. Miller, vowed to put the puck on goal more tonight.  “I feel like I’ve been in passing positions, but tonight, I’m going to be a shooter,”  said Zuccarello, who has just five shots in goal and is pointless in six games. “I haven’t done that enough. I think I’ve been playing well enough defensively, but I want to get on the board.”   


           Goalie Cam Talbot, who is penciled in as Henrik Lundqvist’s backup but was sent to play in Hartford this weekend, impressed Vigneault, who watched the 4-3 win in person Friday.

           “It was an interesting game, a lot of flows to it. You can see a lot of players are progressing. They had a real solid third period, they were down by two and tied it up; Talbot, in the third period, had to give his team a chance and make a difference and he did. He stopped a big 5 on 3, and a penalty shot in overtime, and in the shootout, he did a good job.”


           Former Canucks goalie Cory Schneider will start tonight for the Devils, who are 0-4-3. “He is a great person, I think he is one of the best goaltenders in the league,” said Vigneault. “He is really a student of the game and a great teammate. I’m sure that in time, people in Jersey are really going to appreciate him. He doesn’t have a lot of areas that you can exploit. He’s like any other goaltender, you need to get people inside, you need to get traffic and you need to get pucks at the net.”       


          Patrick Elias did not practice here at The Rock and is listed as doubtful with the flu. Damien Brunner left the skate early.    

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