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.”
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. ”
Chad Johnson made 17 saves in the third period...The penalty-kill was six for six and is 13-for-13 in the last two games....The power play (0-for-6 and six for 72) continues to struggle, although there were more scoring ops...With three goals, Marian Gaborik has 33, fourth-highest in the NHL...His first goal was his 250th and 500th point...Marc Staal, who had two assists, played a heckuva defensive game as well in 27:13. On the PK, Staal said, "I think we did a better job of pressuring them down low with our sticks. We were bang-on."....Lundqvist looked well and said he was feeling much better, and I assume he will be fine by Tuesday to face L.A...The Rangers (0-5) hadn't won here since Dec. 31, 1998 at McNichols Sports Arena....The road win was the Blueshirts' first since in Boston on Jan. 9....