Life has been good lately for the Rangers, who needed just a few weeks to escape the abyss into which they had fallen at 3-7-0. A month into the season, the Blueshirts are in a playoff spot at 8-8-0, even if that’s as much a function of the disrepair and disrepute into which the Metropolitan Division has fallen as of their own renown.

Still, entering a week in which the Panthers (on Sunday) and the Devils (on Tuesday) come to the Garden before the Rangers visit their House of Horrors in Montreal (Nov. 16), there are concerns for coach Alain Vigneault.

Perhaps the most significant concern is Michael Del Zotto, who played just four shifts worth 2:59 in the third period of Thursday’s 4-2 victory in Columbus, including only one turn in the match’s final 12:10.
Del Zotto, 23 and in his fifth NHL season, has grown more and more unstable in his own end and erratic all over the ice. His decision-making is questionable. He has turned the assignment into as much of an adventure as a job, too often skating into trouble and putting the puck into bad ice rather than make quick and safe plays.

Del Zotto’s creativity and his headman tape-to-tape passes just haven’t materialized to great effect, even as Vigneault has publicly challenged his defensemen to generate more offense and get more pucks on net. Del Zotto, who missed one game with the flu and the next as a healthy scratch in October, is fourth on the blue line in shots, trailing John Moore, Ryan McDonagh and Anton Stralman.
Perhaps some of the issues are a result of the lefty adjusting to playing on his off side with third-pair partner John Moore, but the reality is Dan Girardi and Marc Staal are ahead of Del Zotto on the left defense depth chart. That is not going to change for as long as they are healthy and Rangers.