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Del Zotto a Healthy Scratch Vs. Isles

For the second straight game Rangers sophomore defenseman Michael Del Zotto will watch from the press box at MSG, but this time its coach Tortorella and not the flu that has him sidelined.

“He should get a message just being out,” Tortorella said to Andrew Gross of Rangers Rants. “He’s healthy and this is a coach’s decision. He’s been inconsistent. Michael will have to wait his turn.”

Del Zotto has had an up and down season characteristic of a 20-year-old. He has shown flashes of offensive skill with five power play points and has improved his plus-minus to a respectable even after finishing last season with an abominable -20. However, game to game you don't know which player you are going to get.

Will you get the hard-nosed, smart player that had an assist in an important win against the Penguins? Or will you get the giveaway machine that played a big part in the dismal loss to Philly?

The answer to this question really depends on how much Del Zotto is learning on a daily basis. No. 4 is such a dangerous offensive weapon because he can make a home run pass from his own neutral zone at any given time. The real test for the young D-man is to recognize when to make such passes. Too many times has Del Zotto basically given the puck away for an opposing scoring chance when we all know he has the confidence and speed to set up a play elsewhere. Quite simply Del Zotto has fallen in love with his ability to connect to other skill players for big chances and coach Torts will continue to discipline him until he learns otherwise.

Luckily, the emergence of gritty Michael Sauer and former Anaheim Duck Steve Eminger has allowed Tortorella to sit Del Zotto when he truly needs to learn and if Matt Gilroy continues to help his chances in staying in the lineup, Del Zotto could be sent down to Hartford to work on his game. Last season Del Zotto was the power play QB the Rangers so badly desired. This year, they need him to work towards being the complete defensive player they drafted him to be or he'll be the odd man out.

-Alex Silverberg

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