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Flyers' Del Zotto clears his head in hopes of cleaning up sloppy play

Michael Del Zotto is one of a handful of Flyers defensemen caught on coach Craig Berube's merry-go-round.

Flyers defenseman Michael Del Zotto. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Flyers defenseman Michael Del Zotto. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)Read more

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - After two games in 2 nights, the Flyers took a break from the rink Thursday and Michael Del Zotto hopped in a taxi.

His destination: Malibu.

As his cab wound up the coastline, Del Zotto passed Santa Monica Pier and its iconic Ferris wheel - which perfectly symbolizes the Flyers' blue line over the last month.

Seemingly each game, the wheel rotates and another well-paid customer hops into the gondola for a spin.

After surprisingly sitting out two rides in a row as a healthy scratch, in San Jose and Anaheim this week, Del Zotto needed to get away. His brother had recently been to Malibu on a business trip and recommended the spot.

Del Zotto, 24, took the 40-minute ride from the Flyers' hotel and went on an hour-and-a-half hike by himself. He had never been hiking before in his life.

"It was pretty helpful for me just to clear my head," Del Zotto said. "Just up there along the beach, to clear my head and get away from the game a little bit and everything going on. It ended up working out well."

Don't worry: This wasn't one of those Ilya Bryzgalov "lost in the woods" type of deals. It was a sand trail, not in the forest.

"I'm not a goalie," Del Zotto said, laughing. "I'm not a goalie."

Del Zotto will be back in the Flyers' lineup this afternoon against the Kings at Staples Center. As he steps in, Luke Schenn will step off. Schenn himself sat two games in a row last week.

With eight healthy defensemen, including Carlo Colaiacovo, there is seemingly no end in sight to coach Craig Berube's not-so-merry-go-round. The numbers game is wreaking havoc on the confidence of some players - knowing they could be one mistake away from sitting out the next game.

"The last game, I was thinking about that, and that's probably what got me into trouble," Schenn said. "You wish this wasn't the case or the situation. It's different than playing and not having to worry. When you think and try not to make mistakes, that's when you do. Now, here I am."

As a former player, Berube has some empathy to their plight, but said they're "professional athletes and this is part of it, they've got to fight through it and be mentally tough."

Schenn was one of a few culprits in Wednesday's sloppy shootout loss in Anaheim. Before that, Del Zotto was yanked from the lineup for trying to do too much offensively, the same thing that made him a healthy scratch in New York and Nashville.

"I was pushing a little bit offensively, with us struggling a little bit to score goals," Del Zotto said. "It's just wanting to contribute and help in any way you can. It's tough sometimes, when things aren't going well. You try to do too much and it ends up making things worse . . . It's just letting loose, letting your mind relax."

Slap shots

Vinny Lecavalier will be a healthy scratch for the third consecutive game today . . . The Flyers are 4-3-2 against the Western Conference this season . . . They have a chance to finish off their three-game California swing with a 1-1-1 record. Last February, they were the first team in 11 tries to win twice in regulation against California's triangle of death. Boston lost all three games against the California teams this week, outscored by a 12-6 margin . . . Injured forward Ryan White (torn pectoral) is expected to be cleared to return in 2 weeks, according to general manager Ron Hextall.