Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Deadly Del Zotto Deals Out a Defeat

2008 is going to become known as the year of outstanding Ranger prospects as the 2008 draft class may wind up becoming the best in Ranger's history. 5 of those picked are legit prospects towards becoming NHL players; normally a draft is a winner if you get 2 NHL players.

Evgeny Grachev rightfully gets a ton of the publicity because of his play but the player selected in the first round Michael Del Zotto is a very solid player in his own right. Del Zotto in fact is fast becoming a huge difference maker for his current team the London Knights.

If anyone has ever gained from being traded it was Michael Del Zotto; coming to the London Knights has allowed him to work on his overall game. Del Zotto is never going to be a defensive stopper but his defense is improving with each passing game.

Saturday night, Del Zotto had a goal along with two assists as his London Knights held off the Saginaw Spirit 4-3 to win game 2 of their playoff series and move to a 2-0 series lead. It was Del Zotto's 4th game where he provided the key points for the Knights during the playoffs.

Del Zotto got his night going by scoring a power play goal at 6:51 of the first period to tie the score at 1-1. It was Del Zotto's second goal of the playoffs and it was just the beginning for Del Zotto.

With the Knights up on a 5 on 3, Del Zotto then fed good friend John Tavares for Tavares's 5th goal of the playoffs again on the power play at 12:39 of the second period which put the Knights up 3-1. Less than a minute later and still on the power play, Del Zotto earned a secondary assist on yet a 3rd power play goal for the Knights at 13:23 and a 4-1 Knight lead.

It turned out to be the biggest goal of the game as Saginaw mounted a furious comeback in the 3rd period and if not for a goal post would have tied the game to force overtime. The Knights took their foot off the gas pedal and it almost cost them big time.

The Knights biggest weapon is their skating skill and Del Zotto is one of the best skaters, to quote Morris Dalla Costa of the London Free Press:

Make no mistake about it, all the hockey people knew Del Zotto's value. He is one of the most talented offensive blue-liners in the league. He too was a game-breaker.

Memo to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, Del Zotto was never a mistake and 7 games into the 2009 OHL playoff season, Del Zotto is 2-10-12 which ties his career high but we also think Del Zotto is just beginning to find his game.


If Tysen Dowzak and his Kelowna Rockets drop their series to the Tri-City Americans they will only have themselves to blame especially the way they gave away Game 2 of this series. The Rockets gave away a 2-0 lead allowing 3 third period goals to the Americans to lose 3-2.

The Rockets now trail this series 0-2 and can only blame themselves for this hole that they find themselves in. When you are up 2-0 then go for the kill and do not give the other team any hope of coming back which is of course what the Rockets did.

Dowzak had too quiet of a night but he was not alone as the leaders of the Rockets were too quiet. The Americans despite trailing 2-0 owned this game with scoring chance after scoring chance.

Tomas Kundratek and the Medicine Hat Tigers got whipped 6-3 in their season opener against the Brandon Wheat Kings. The nicest thing we can say is that Kundratek did not have as bad a game as some of his teammates.

However this one is going to put the Tigers in a huge hole because the WHL had to schedule this series to start in Medicine Hat due to arena issues so 3 of the next 4 games will be in Brandon.


Mitch Beck of Howlings passed along that Corey Cowick's stay with Hartford is over before it ever got started. Cowick failed his Wolfpack physical due to a previous shoulder issue and has returned to Ottawa.

(Del Zotto courtesy of Stu Switzer of Phatso Photography)


Lee said...

Please could you comment on either/both of these:
Chris Doyle not getting an ATO while the Rangers have recruited F's Crowder, McBride and Cowick? Does this reflect anything at all? I saw that Jared Staal, also 19 and class of'08, got an ATO this week.
Also, if the Rangers are somehow still playing when Grachev's season ends, is there precedent/possibility for a kid that young to debut in the NHL postseason? Thanks for this blog.

Jess Rubenstein said...


Chris Doyle's junior age (AHL eligibility age) is only 18 which prevents the Rangers from bringing him to Hartford.

I also suspect that Doyle's back would not pass a physical.

Jared Staal was signed to an ATO by the team that drafted him. His junior age is 19.

Re: Grachev, the answer is yes the Rangers could bring him directly to them.

Very few teams today will do that due to jump in game speed.

Nat Loh said...

wow, MDZ and Godzilla are quickly making short work of Staal's "paltry" 20 points in 21 game "Staal Standard." At this rate, you're gonna have to come up with a more clever alliteration like Mike's Mark or the Grachev Gauge.

Jess Rubenstein said...


The Staal Standard is two fold as points are not the main factor:

(1) How far can he help his team go with his play.

So far both prospects have of course been key in getting them to the second round.

(2) How many key games does the prospect play

Del Zotto has 5 SS points for 5 games where his 4 of his points either won or set up the game winner. The 5th came for his +3 effort where he was a factor on defense.

Grachev has 4 SS points as he played 2 complete games so far (Game 1 of this current series is IMO his best game of the season PERIOD) and 2 games where he put up key points.

In either case should the time arise where we need a new nickname you have been elected the nickname maker.

The bad news is that Brampton got whupped today 5-1 and Grachev was a non-factor