Saturday, November 27, 2010

Lineup News: Lundqvist to Start; Rozsival Back...Should Del Zotto Sit Instead of Gilroy?

It has been announced that Henrik Lundqvist will get the start for the Rangers when they play the Predators in Nashville tonight.  This is the right move for the club not only tonight, but for the season and not just because he had a shutout last night.  Earlier this morning I looked at why Lundqvist had to make the start tonight and you can find those thoughts here.

The other news is good for the defense as Michal Rozsival will return to the lineup tonight after missing the last 9 games with both shoulder and knee issues.  The return of Rozsival will bring another veteran blue-liner into the defensive core and if Rozi returns playing as he was earlier in the year the defense will be much stronger for it.  
The return of Rozisval does pose a different set of issues for the Rangers as someone will need to be scratched from the D in order to make room for him.  The consensus I believe will be that Matt Gilroy is the one who will be the first one out of the lineup, which is understandable.  I am going to oppose that general thinking and suggest at least for a game or two that Michael Del Zotto be the one who watches from the press level.  Del Zotto had another awful defensive game last night and is showing more and more not less and less that he is not defensively ready for this level of competition.  Maybe the most telling part of it is the people who have consistently defended him for being young and gifted offensively to excuse the defensive brain cramps are having a harder time doing so.  As I have repeatedly said my problem with MDZ is not the mistakes because every defender will screw up or have bad nights, the problem is the repetition of the same mistakes so it does not seem he is learning anything.  Steve Eminger has shown in the absence of Rozsival that he can be a solid 4th defender so he can play with Rozsival and let Gilroy and Sauer remain together as the 3rd pair. 

Even if you take Gilroy out of the lineup I still move Del Zotto down to the final pair and play him with Michael Sauer who not for nothing has probably been the Rangers best stay at home defender of late.  Sauer will cover up for some of Del Zotto’s mistakes and the pairing will allow MDZ to stay in the lineup, use his offensive game on the powerplay all while playing less even strength minutes and to go against weaker competition. 

Really you have two ways to go with MDZ based on the different tactics the Rangers have shown the last few weeks in the handling of Derek Stepan and Henrik Lundqvist.  If you take the Stepan approach you drop MDZ down in the rotation and let him work on his game on the ice.  If you take the Lundqvist approach you sit him and let him get extra work with the coaching staff on his positioning, technique, film study to show his lapses and the mental side of the game.  Personally I vote for a combination of the two where MDZ sits tonight and then gets back in there with a lower role against the Pens on Monday.