Flyers defenseman Michael Del Zotto has been one of the team’s free agent finds and his penchant for making big plays continued during Saturday’s 4-2 win at the Wells Fargo Center over his former New York Rangers team.
Del Zotto snapped a 2-2 tie with a shorthanded goal early in the third period, converting a feed from Sean Couturier for his eighth goal of the season.
“Coots made a great play,” he said. “Picked my spot and it was lucky enough to go in.”
On his game-winner, Del Zotto beat Cam Talbot with a shot to the upper right corner.
“I think I kind of just over slid when I came across,” Talbot said. “I gave a little bit too much.”
Del Zotto now has seven points (3 goals, four assists) in his last eight games.
“I thought he played a really good game,” coach Craig Berube said. “He’s doing an all-around great job.”
Then Berube expanded on the subject.
“He is playing against top lines, defending well and that’s the biggest thing for me,” Berube said. “You know, he’s defending well and then he’s jumping in the play when he can and making good plays with the puck.”
Del Zotto, who turns 25 in June, says this is possibly the most confidence he has had as an NHL player.. He was with the Rangers beginning in the 2009-10 season until being traded to Nashville on Jan. 22, 2014.
In the offseason he signed with the Flyers.
“In the past couple of days the coaching staff has showed a lot of trust in me, throwing me in all situations, the first penalty kill, power play, 5-on-5,” he said. “Anytime that happens it helps with your confidence and it’s going well right now”.
With Nashville he had one goal and four assists in 25 games. He wasn’t receiving many glowing endorsements after his Nashville stint.
“I came into the offseason and knew I would have to prove people wrong,” he said. “I know there were a lot of people doubting me out there.”
While the goals get noticed, it’s Del Zotto’s play on defense that Berube wanted to emphasize.
“I think he’s a highly confident player for sure, but I think the one thing we stressed here and stressed it with him is you have to play good defense, and he’s done that,” Berube said.
Del Zotto has a simple explanation for his success this season.
“I think I’m maturing a little bit,” he said. “I’m 24 now with my sixth year in the league. You see things a little differently. You get to know the league a little bit, each player and get to know the game more.
And he’s putting that knowledge to good use.