Nov 20, 2013, 1:20 PM EDT
If there were any doubts Michael Del Zotto was in the doghouse, his head coach erased them on Wednesday.
“I have been told he is a much better player,” Alain Vigneault said of Del Zotto, as per the Rangers’ Twitter account. “I have not seen that on a consistent enough basis.
“We’ll see how he responds.”
Del Zotto, who has been a healthy scratch in three straight games, will likely draw back into the lineup for Thursday’s game in Dallas, which could be a showcase more than anything else. Trade speculation has heated up around the 23-year-old rearguard, with reports surfacing on Tuesday night linking Del Zotto to Ottawa.
This development marks a pretty quick fall from grace for Del Zotto. Last season, he signed a two-year, $5.1 million extension and proceeded to score 21 points in 46 games, leading all Rangers defensemen in scoring.
Through 16 games this year, he has just four points and is averaging a career-low 18:28 TOI per game.
Worth noting that it’s not uncommon for Vigneault to put defensemen in his doghouse. He routinely banished Keith Ballard to the press box during his time in Vancouver and, prior to Ballard, often made Shane O’Brien a healthy scratch (though to be fair, Ballard was used sparingly because he didn’t fit the Canucks’ scheme; O’Brien’s issues often stemmed from a lack of fitness and maturity.)
Del Zotto hasn’t said much in response to being a healthy scratch but, following his third straight game in the press box, admitted the situation was getting to him.
“Frustration,” he told Newsday. “It’s something you never want. You always work so hard to play and you always want to be playing. And that’s what I’ve done my whole life.”
UPDATE: We do read the comments section on PHT and appreciate feedback, and it appears some have taken issue with this headline. I genuinely don’t think it’s an issue but, since some do, here is the entire quote (courtesy the Bergen Record).
“I can only speak for what I’ve seen so far, and what I’ve seen so far on our team as far as our defensive corps is playing, is he’s fighting for one of the regular six spots,” Vigneault said. “A player like Michael has to play to his strengths. I’ve been told his strengths are his ability to beat the forecheck, join the rush, help out on the power play and get shots through. I have not seen that on a consistent enough basis for him to be able to say he’s going to be in the lineup every night. Some other Ds can have an off night, you’re going to throw them back in even though they have. Michael in the 20 some odd games that I’ve been here has not shown that consistently enough. We’ll see how he responds and we’ll go from there.
“He is supposed to be a skating defenseman that can beat the forecheck, that can join the rush and obviously has the ability to chip in on the power play,” Vigneault added. “That means he can get a shot through, he can see people that are open around the net. I’ve seen that throughout the span that I’ve been here but I haven’t seen it consistently enough to say he warrants a regular spot all the time. I can only go by what I’ve seen and with what my coaches are seeing. I wasn’t here in the past.”
As always, feel free to voice your opinions below.
Oct 22, 2014, 9:48 PM EDT
Little bit of history here.
Oct 22, 2014, 9:19 PM EDT
Milbury doesn’t understand why the Pens would extend him.
Oct 22, 2014, 8:32 PM EDT
Tremendous gesture from the Penguins organization.
Oct 22, 2014, 8:17 PM EDT
NHL Insider joined Kathryn Tappen live in studio.
Oct 22, 2014, 7:45 PM EDT
Blueliner’s had zero luck in the health department.
Oct 22, 2014, 7:22 PM EDT
Two teams that, how should we say, care not for one another.
Oct 22, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT
“We had no choice but to.”
Oct 22, 2014, 6:21 PM EDT
He won’t travel with the club for its upcoming three-game road swing through Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.
Oct 22, 2014, 5:25 PM EDT
Charles Wang remains in charge until then.
Oct 22, 2014, 5:22 PM EDT
Worth a reported $16 million.
Oct 22, 2014, 5:11 PM EDT
Not clear yet if charges will be filed.
Oct 22, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT
More tough luck.
Oct 22, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
Just gotta work on the stuff in front of him now.
Oct 22, 2014, 2:54 PM EDT
Oct 22, 2014, 2:32 PM EDT
News and notes from the blue paint…
Oct 22, 2014, 2:13 PM EDT
He’ll be in for the Kings when they host Buffalo tomorrow.
Oct 22, 2014, 1:48 PM EDT
Having already sat out last night’s win over Philly.
Oct 22, 2014, 1:46 PM EDT
No word yet on a makeup date.
Oct 22, 2014, 12:22 PM EDT
Anders Lee on his way up?
Oct 22, 2014, 12:05 PM EDT
He’ll join Norfolk on a PTO.
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