Something to chew on, more to come...
Wojtek Wolski was a little more prepared for a trade this time.
“I expected it a little more,” the Rangers newest forward conceded after he arrived in New York yesterday after being traded by the Coyotes for veteran defenseman Michal Rozsival on Monday. “Maybe I was more welcome to the fact of getting moved,” he said. “It was definitely tough not getting the minutes I wanted and not being able to contribute.”
Last night, the 24-year-old Wolski, who envisions himself reclaiming an offensive role that provided him the opportunity to score 22 goals in 2006-07 and 23 goals last season between Colorado and Phoenix, began the next step in his career as the Rangers hosted the Montreal Canadiens. The left wing was immediately inserted on the No. 1 line with Marian Gaborik and Artem Anisimov and Wolski had some chances early with that duo, and he hit the post with about 2:50 left in regulation, but the Rangers lost 2-1.
Benoit Pouliot broke a 1-1 tie with a sharp-angled wrister over Henrik Lundqvist’s right shoulder at 6:03 of the third period. It was the second consecutive goal for Montreal. At 18:49 of the second, Jaroslav Spacek’s shot was initially stopped by Lundqvist, but both Brian Boyle and Pouliot dove into the crease and the puck was pushed across the line. Brandon Dubinsky had opened the scoring with his 17th goal at 4:15 of the first on a drive to the net and a wrister past Alex Auld. Lundqvist recorded an assist in his third consecutive game.
As evidenced again last night, the Blueshirts need more scoring. “We certainly will not get in his (Wolski’s) way offensively,” said coach John Tortorella. “We want to see his skill. A big part of our club, when we win some hockey games, is our grind; he is going to have to join in there also.”
In 2005-06, Wolski lit up the OHL, scoring 47 goals and 128 points in 57 games, and was drafted 21st overall by Colorado. “I like to create plays, create opportunities for myself and my linemates,” Wolski said. But the word was that he didn’t embrace Phoenix coach Dave Tippett’s defensive system, and that will be the challenge for him here.
Wolski, who was born in Poland, was traded last season a few days before the trade deadline, “and I wasn’t expecting it,” he said. “We were on the road in Anaheim and played Colorado the next day. So I’m happy we’re not playing Phoenix. Maybe it’s better if I just jump in.”
After scoring 18 points in 18 games when he arrived in Phoenix, Wolski was off to anything but a jump start this season, with just six goals and 16 points. “I knew there were going to be some changes, either myself or someone else to shake things up. The system that we played was a little more defensive than I’m used to, that didn’t help my game.”
Tortorella wants to form his own opinion. “There will be some correcting; he’s a young kid who’s put up some numbers. I don’t think it’s going to be too difficult for him to understand how I coach. I talked to a lot of coaches in the Western Conference, and guys who are close to him and he’s supposed to be a really good guy.”