Wojtek Wolski is Kind of Getting Screwed

wolski

Photo credit: Clyde Caplan

With Eric Fehr sidelined due to an upper-body-but-definitely-not-shoulder injury, Wojtek Wolski made his return to active duty in Tuesday night’s 3-2 loss to the Islanders. For Wolski, who had been scratched since March 12th, it should have been an opportunity to re-establish himself as a contributing member of the Capitals squad.

That didn’t happen. Wolski made no impression of any kind– probably because he got under 7 minutes of ice. That’s not a lot for Washington’s second best possession forward. So what gives?

Wolksi played 6:51 in 9 shifts– just two of them in the third period, and none in the game’s final 10 minutes. That shouldn’t be surprising for a fourth liner, but we can’t let ourselves think that this was a real opportunity for Wolski to prove himself. Before Tuesday, Wolski had been averaging closer to 15 minutes on ice per game. And of those 9 shifts, all but one were made on the fly. Wolski saw just one faceoff, surprisingly in the offensive zone.

I understand that Wolski is a cheap contract (just $600k this season) and that his career has been pocked by injury, but he’s undeniably a talented a player. There is compelling evidence that he tilts the ice in his team’s favor whenever he’s on ice. But for some reason, Coach Adam Oates does not play him. It took an injury to Eric Fehr, the Caps’ third best possession forward, for Wolski to even crack the lineup. And when Wolski’s actually in play, he doesn’t get the time or deployment necessary to do what he does best.

Wolski’s shot-attempt differential was plus-4 on Tuesday. His goal differential was plus-1. He didn’t get an assist on Ribeiro’s goal, but I want you to take a look at it anyway.

Wolski crashed the net. Brouwer set up Ribeiro, and Ribeiro obviously did a great job scoring, but Wolksi was the one up in Nabokov’s grill, putting his stick on the ice for a rebound, and drawing away the defender who would have otherwise blocked Ribs’ shot. They don’t hand out assists for that kind of play, but it sure as hell matters.

Well, maybe not to Adam Oates, who gave Wolski less than 2 minutes of ice-time after that goal.

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  • CP

    Chimera is due for some time in the press box. He’s had zero production since his “breakout” goal, and has taken two penalties, both of which led to game-tying goals. I’d much rather see Wolski out there than him right now. Maybe some healthy scratch time will help him get back to his previous form.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I don’t like the idea of scratching guys because their goals get stopped. I DO like the idea of scratching guys for not shooting at all though!

  • http://twitter.com/DCRothman David Rothman

    I’d really like to see 17-85-42 reunited as the 3rd line, Chimera needs to drop to the 4th line until he gets his game sorted out. In addition to not scoring, he just doesn’t look like himself.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    Wolski is a smart player. The fact that Marcus Johansson gets comfy first line time and this guy gets scratched routinely is bizarre to me.

  • Erik Karlsson

    Brouwer needs to shot more, yesterday he had open shots but decided to pass, does he have some sort of injury that won’t let him shoot?

  • Hockeynightincanada

    Not about Wolski, but I don’t think you’ll find a poster who didn’t say that a qualifying offer of 1yr/$5mil was what should have been offered to Green last summer.

  • Rhino40

    Yes, where did that blinding speed go?

  • Brouwer Rangers

    Just a note of caution that if you move to a #freewolski campaign, leave the #scratchoates sign at home.

  • Jeeper

    Wolski had his chance on first line, he missed open net after open net opportunities

  • http://pucknhockey.com Eric Rigsby

    I was having a discussion with a friend before last night’s game that Wolski is a possession guy (supported by stats) and that he just needs the minutes to make an impact.

  • CP

    Are you referring to Chimera’s 2 SOG in the last 5 games? Or the fact that everyone on the ice last night made one pass too many.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    The first one!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Andy.Wallace.839 Andy Wallace

    Wolski became my favorite player from day one and this season has just been an emotional roller coaster because of it. I demand he get legitamate time on the first lind