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‘His game has slipped': Trotz explains Del Zotto healthy scratch

Mar 20, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT

MichaelDelZotto Getty Images

Michael Del Zotto‘s difficult season continued on Wednesday as he was made a healthy scratch for Nashville’s 2-0 loss in Vancouver.

Following the game, Preds head coach Barry Trotz was pretty straightforward as to why he banished Del Zotto to the press box.

“His game has slipped, and our coaching staff has talked to him about making solid decisions, solid plays and he has gotten away from that a little bit,” Trotz said, per The Tennessean. “We had some healthy people and we felt this would be a good time.”

The decision came just hours after Del Zotto played one of his worst games of the season in a 5-1 loss to Edmonton — he finished minus-3 in just over 15 minutes of ice time, and took a third-period interference penalty that essentially led to an Oilers goal (MDZ came out of the box just as Jordan Eberle scored to make it 4-1.)

Following the game, Trotz blasted the Preds for their inability to handle Edmonton’s forwards in the Nashville zone.

“They love to cycle, they love to move around, and we didn’t kill any cycles, we were mirroring people and we were light on the puck,” he said. “We had a lot of no-shows, guys that didn’t play to their capabilities, and that’s not good enough for us.”

While Trotz didn’t call out Del Zotto specifically, it’s telling that the ex-Rangers blueliner was parked the very next night.

Getting banished to the press box isn’t anything new for Del Zotto. Prior to getting dealt to Nashville, he was a frequent resident in New York head coach Alain Vigneault’s doghouse. Vigneault was highly critical of Del Zotto (see here and here) and made him a healthy scratch on a few occasions.

  1. xdj511 - Mar 20, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    Well so much for the change of scenery idea. MDZ had better get his kaka together or he’s going to end up out of the league altogether.

    • jernster21 - Mar 20, 2014 at 2:01 PM

      If TJ Galiardi can find a home in the NHL, MDZ will be fine.

  2. barkar942 - Mar 20, 2014 at 12:31 PM

    I just posted this yesterday on the post about Torts should be fired.
    “Tort’s style of coaching was a little tough and harsh compared to Tom Renney when he took over the Rangers. He demanded effort and responsibility for defensive coverage and a players positioning and work away from the puck. He benched players who were just floating waiting to get a break away (see Zherdev). He benched players who were back checking like they were on vacation (again, see Zherdev). He has always said that players need to play correctly, and many of these potential offensive stars need to learn how to play without the puck (see DelZotto and Kreider). Constantly this year I still have seen DelZotto making poor decisions away from the puck (and obviously so did AV and they shipped him out for Kline), and Kreider chasing a player for that extra second or two to make a hit and it puts him out of position on his defensive coverage and the puck ends up in the Ranger’s net.”
    I truly believe that Kreider will suffer a similar fate in time because he hasn’t learned defensive decision making, just like DelZ. He can score, but to be a complete player, you must make good decisions away from the puck.

    • xdj511 - Mar 20, 2014 at 3:07 PM

      I must respectfully disagree with your comparison of MDZ and Kreider. MDZ has been in the league a few years already and established himself with a solid season, after which he suddenly regressed during the Rangers run to the ECF and hasn’t been quite the same player since. It led to benchings and finally a trade, but unfortunately he hasn’t found a way to live up to the expectations he set for himself with that one good season, much less live up to the potential he was supposed to have.

      Kreider is still technically a rookie in his first full NHL season (remember he was sent down at the end of training camp and it took 10-15 games before he was really able to establish himself and cement his place on the team). A big part of his game is to use his big frame to forecheck and create havoc. Hopefully as he matures he will learn how to be more responsible and take fewer bad penalties, but his case right now is very different from MDZ’s because he is still on the way up on the learning curve. Hopefully he never regresses the way MDZ did.

      • barkar942 - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:04 PM

        I agree with your assessment- Kreider has tremendous upside potential. He, unfortunately, came in when the Rangers were heading deep in the playoffs. He had no training camp. He had no time to be coached properly. Now the next season was the lockout. Once again, no real training camp to speak of, and Torts really wanted him to spend time in the AHL with Shoenfeld and Gernander to work on the other parts of his game besides offense. Unfortunately, injuries forced him back to NY and then back to Hartford and then back to NY again way too soon.
        AV sent him down early I presume because he was seeing the same shortcomings that Torts saw. Once again, he was called back up way too soon due to, I believe, Cally’s broken hand.
        I can’t imagine being a straight out of college hockey and jumping right into the top league in the world, and Kreider has shown much potential. They all say the speed of the game is so much faster than anywhere else they have played.
        He is a big body and can create havoc with his body checking. However, he occasionally gets over zealous with the hitting when he really should have passed that one up and started back checking quicker. I am sure he will work through this as he matures. It just is what I see as his primary flaw as a player.

  3. jdmix - Mar 20, 2014 at 1:46 PM

    Time to fire Trotz

    • mshantz22 - Mar 20, 2014 at 2:05 PM

      Firing Trotz would be a terrible idea! Barry Trotz has probably been one of the most consistently good coaches in the NHL. Considering the talent (or lack thereof) he’s been dealt, he’s done a great job.

      • deathbyspl - Mar 20, 2014 at 7:33 PM

        More like consistently mediocre. Barry Trotz is basically a Claude Julien but without the toughness and ability to get offense going. Trotz has squandered two Nashville rosters that were at one point considered to be cup contenders going into what would be short playoff appearances (2007 and 2010). Not only that, but he managed to run off top offensive talent after both years. Most of the rosters that David Poile has put together has been at Barry Trotz’s request. Trotz has even gone on record several times saying he would take a hard working bottom 6 player over a skilled top line player and would love to have a team of nothing but grinders and role players. Trotz’s main idea of generating offense is getting garbage goals and waiting on “puck luck” which is fine to hear every once in a while, but not every single night. It’s pretty ridiculous, and it’s time for both him and Poile to leave Nashville….or they need to do a 180 on their philosophy because the “Predator Hard ” (horrible slogan btw) experiment this season failed miserably.

  4. jdmix - Mar 20, 2014 at 3:14 PM

    Done a great job with what he has been dept but it’s the same problem every year. Scoring.. He is too defensive minded and with the young talent of Smith, Wilson, and Forsberg (players whom seem to do well when NOT playing under Trotz) they are too restricted by being forced to be two way forwards; they can’t take offensive chances. Trotz has been a good coach but it is time for a change. Couldn’t get out of the 1st round, then embarrassed vs PHX in 2nd rd and now back to back horrible seasons. With the roster getting younger it’s time to get an offensive minded coach in. Fans will start to lose interest soon. Pekka is a very good goalie but he can’t score goals. All the Predators have to do most of the time to win is score 2-3 goals to give Pekka a chance, but they rarely score more than 1 if they do score. Been a fan since day one but it’s time. Players can only listen to,a coach for so long.

  5. bspray - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:55 PM

    ‘Peter Laviolette, there is a David Poile on line 1.’

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