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Del Zotto returning to form

March 11, 2013, by
Del Zotto has been solid lately, much needed by the Rangers

Del Zotto has been solid lately, much needed by the Rangers

It won’t be a popular topic with many Rangers fans, but Michael Del Zotto has quietly gone about playing some very good hockey since returning from his injury. This return to form is also coinciding with the Rangers recent strong run, which is no coincidence.

Del Zotto’s form has been overshadowed by Ryan McDonagh’s own return to form, Marc Staal’s injury, Rick Nash’s free scoring ways and the partial re-emergence of a powerplay that has begun to make a positive difference once again (finally?). Perhaps this is the best way for Del Zotto. He gets the opportunity to float under the radar, and have the attention focused elsewhere.

In not being blamed for every defensive error committed by the Rangers, and partially forgotten about on the offensive side of the puck, Del Zotto has had the opportunity to play himself back in to form in relative peace and quiet. While other players take the plaudits, Del Zotto has gotten better.

Del Zotto’s upturn in form couldn’t have come at a better time. With Marc Staal out for another 2-3 weeks, and Roman Hamrlik not yet trusted with significant minutes until he can get some kind of game shape, Del Zotto has been needed to solidify the top four and give coach Tortorella a second pair he can trust at any given minute or shift.

Del Zotto has points in back to back games for the first time since the end of January, but his decision making and physical play (as evidenced by his willingness to take on Chris Neil physically) have been better than at any time recently. His ice time has been significant, only dipping under 22:30 once in the past four games.

A key indicator may be that Del Zotto is shooting more, as we saw in the Capitals game yesterday. Even though he only registered one official shot on goal yesterday (he had several blocked), this represented the first time he hadn’t registered at least two shots on goal in the past five games (with six being registered to his name against the Senators last Friday).

Del Zotto clearly still needs to get better in his own end to develop into a consistent upper echelon defenseman. There is no questioning that with Marc Staal down, Del Zotto has stepped it up when the Rangers have needed him most. It’s time we gave the young blueliner some kudos rather than let the fan base rip him for every mistake made on the Rangers blueline.

Categories : Defense


  1. Vinnie says:


  2. RangerTex says:

    All this and the kid is only 22 years old. If he continues on his progression path, he will be an excellent PMD at 25.

    • Dave says:

      Yup. Players usually peak at D aroudn 27-31 or so. There’s a long way to go there.

  3. RangerTex says:

    —————– O T —————————-
    In my never ending search for a RD that can shoot the puck, I came up with another name,
    Maxim Goncharov. 6’3″, 215 lbs. | Phoenix
    Birth Date:June 15, 1989 (23 years old)
    Place of Birth:Moscow, RUS
    Experience:0 years
    Drafted:Drafted by Phoenix in 2007 (5/123)
    Assets: Has a great shot from the point, as well as the instincts to play the point on power plays. Can also play sound defense in his own end and be a physical presence, due to very good size.
    Flaws: Needs to play with more game-to-game consistency in order to maximize his all-around upside. Must also take more shots to take full advantage of his big weapon.
    Career Potential: Talented defenseman with upside.

    I wish you guys did an analysis of what each of these guys bring to the table using your advanced stats.
    So far the list is: David Savard, Maxim Goncharov.
    Looking forward to the article 🙂

    • Chris says:

      I hear you Ranger Tex, though not sure Goncharov is exactly the type we need. yes, he’s big, yet he’s got a big shot but in three years in the AHL he’s been -3, -15 and -9 (this year).

      He’s clearly not developed well defensively (yet) so if you or anyone thinking Del Zotto gets rough treatment for his defensive inconsistencies then this kid would get eaten alive.

      Bear in mind, this kid is learning the position at the AHL level and is struggling. MDZ is learning at the NHL level and doing well. Albeit with a few up and downs.

      Would Goncharov be worth a look? Sure. Kid has talent, size and the aforementioned ‘big shot’. Would he help in the short term? no. Besides, this is assuming he’s available.

      • RangerTex says:

        Good points, but the common thread between Goncharov and Savard is they are both caught in a numbers game in teams (Phoenix and Columbus) that have a deep defensive bench.
        I should have made another point clearer. I am looking at the long term. We do not have that type of talent in the pipeline. If it takes him a couple of years to develop, so be it.

        • Chris says:

          I will agree on that; we could do with adding some players that can develop in the system, though Skjei and McIlrath come in as players that will/have been brought a long slowly. Another few couldn’t hurt though.

          • rickyrants13 says:

            Having only two D men maybe three developing is scarey no???

            • Csmellssss says:

              It would be scarier if our average d-man wasn’t 27 years old.

              • rickyrants13 says:

                Due to money that will have to be paid out for having such a good young core of D men We wont be able to keep them all. So yes you need a steady flow of them comming in And as you have seen injuries kill us.

                Plus having only 2-3 players developing is why we have a 5th and 6th D man problem now.

      • rickyrants13 says:

        Plus min is not allways telling the story You have to see what the overall team is like as well. And also the goaltending.

    • Dave says:

      It’s incredibly difficult (note: impossible, they don’t exist) to find advanced metrics for players not in the NHL.

  4. supermaz says:

    MDZ sucks…it is that simple.
    Don’t try and confuse us with numbers.

    • rickyrants13 says:

      Tell me ouriddin Me??? MDZ hasnt even come close to what he will be. Last year you could see how he was starting to become a more involved D man Throwing the body around and all. And in the past few games he has been finding that again.

      You have to remember for many of these guys They would only be about 14 games into the regular season. About now. The preseason was missed. Or didnt you notice?

    • Csmellssss says: