Every Tuesday at PHT, we’ll pump a player’s tire. Because every player likes it when nice things are said about them.
This week’s tire pumpee: Michael Del Zotto, New York Rangers
After suffering through a textbook sophomore slump, the 21-year-old has regained the form that made him a candidate for rookie of the year in 2009-10. Check that, he’s better than he was in his first NHL season.
After 34 games, Del Zotto leads all Rangers defensemen with 21 points, and he leads the team with a remarkable plus-25 rating.
Those stats are even more impressive when you consider he was sent down to the AHL less than a year ago.
“Everything about him is different this season,” goalie Henrik Lundqvist told the New York Times. “His passes are crisper. His battle level is like we’d never seen before. He’s playing a lot more physically. You have to remember, he is still a very young player, especially for a defenseman. But there’s no question he’s a more confident player.”
Del Zotto’s bounce-back has meant even more for the Rangers in the absence of Marc Staal, as coach John Tortorella has been able to play the young blueliner 22:42 per game.
“He’s learning what it takes to be a pro,” Tortorella told the Times. “He’s on the right road.”
Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.
Carey Price met with team doc today. Will undergo more tests. Habs likely won't have more concrete info until early in the week
“Nope,” Dubinsky said. “You know, I’ve played the same way my whole career and I’m not going to change. The next time I have an opportunity to play (Crosby), I’m going to play him hard.”
In case you’re wondering, that next opportunity comes on Dec. 21 in Pittsburgh, assuming that both players are healthy and not suspended.
One can understand Dubinsky’s perspective, although such honesty would be that much more interesting if there’s another incident with Crosby. His initial reaction to the hit was interestingly candid, admitting that his “stick rode up” on his adversary.
Would that stance – which, from a harsher view, might seem flippant to Dubinsky’s critics – open the door for a bigger future bit of a discipline?
Maybe, maybe not … but at least his comments aren’t as inflammatory as what John Tortorella said (at least on the record).