I think it’s really fascinating, and will continue to be, the way John Tortorella teaches, coddles, lives with and dies with the rookies this season, especially the D-men.
Artem Anisimov is in a different situation. The expectations won’t be the same as those on Matt Gilroy and Michael Del Zotto, and in fact I wouldn’t be shocked if he shuffled to Hartford and back from time to time if his minutes dwindle, especially after Sean Avery gets back.
The rookie D-men, though, are by far the best power-play pointmen, the best offensive defensemen on the team, and the most suited to play Tortorella’s system.
On the other hand, they are rooks, and rooks at that position struggle. Gilroy is 25, but he’s only played four years at the position. Del Zotto is 19. As you may have noticed, even though both were huge factors in the two wins Saturday and Monday, neither played much in the third periods. Tortorella went with his veteran four down the stretch in Newark.
On Del Zotto, the coach said, “He’s playing well. He’s learning how to battle. He’s learning how to protect the pucl. We’re going to go through some bumps. There’s going to be some major bumps along the way here. But it’s exciting to see 19-year-old. You look at the subtle play he made on (Ales) Kotalik’s (power-play) goal. He just moves his stick to freeze that guy and open up for Kotalik. That’s something you can’t teach. And for a 19-year-old, we’ve got to be excited about that as an organization. You project that two or three years from now, and we’ve got a pretty good thing going on.”
So they sat in the latter part of the third period. So what? Without either of those rooks, the Rangers lost in New Jersey. No doubt about it.
In case you missed it last night, Steve Zipay reported that Alexei Semenov signed a two-year deal to play in Russia, for more than the $600,000 for which the Rangers thought they had signed him.
The Rangers got a day off today, after playing three in four nights with the same 19 players.