After being scratched in Wednesday night’s game due to the flu, Michael Del Zotto will need to wait on his return to New York Rangers‘ lineup. Alain Vigneault announced that Del Zotto would be a healthy scratch for tonight’s game vs. New Jersey Devils. Justin Falk, who replaced Del Zotto on Wednesday, will take his place once again.
Vigneault’s reasoning for scratching Del Zotto is sound. He felt the six defenseman who played on Wednesday night performed well enough to earn their keep in the lineup. The Rangers allowed no goals in their win over Washington Capitals so why try and fix what isn’t broken?
Del Zotto is a polarizing figure in Rangerland. Many fans believe his potential and offensive ability should allow him to be a top-four defensemen on the team. Other fans think he is a waste of space and that the Rangers should look to trade him.
I’m not sure Del Zotto’s value is very high right now. He isn’t strong defensively and the best part of his game, which is supposed to be his offensive ability, hasn’t been evident on a consistent basis. Too often I’ve seen Del Zotto miss passes, allow pucks to bounce over his stick and out of the offensive zone while playing the point, be indecisive with his shot selection and when he does shoot the puck often hits defenders in their legs or goes five-feet wide of the net. Del Zotto has shown glimpses of what he can be, but until he strings those glimpses together for a month or more I, and many other fans, will continue to be skeptical of his role on this team.
Although Falk is not the answer, scratching Del Zotto sends a message not only to him but also to the rest of the team. Nobody’s job is secure. Play hard night in and night out. Prove your worth and you will play. Vigneault made the right move here.
Martin Burns covers New York Rangers hockey for Rant Sports. Follow him on twitter (@martin_burns) for more thoughts and news on the Blueshirts as well as the rest of the NHL!