Yesterday, in an interview with Andrew Gross, newly acquired winger Ales Kotalik admitted that coach John Tortorella has spoken with him about playing the point on the power play. The Rangers had the second-worst ranked power play in the league last year, and it definitely cost them in the regular season and in the playoffs. Five or six well timed power play goals more during the regular season, and the Rangers don’t face the Washington Capitals in the first round.
While I’m not completely sold on Kotalik the total-package, I am sold on Kotalik the shooter. He has a nasty shot. If the point man can manage to get the puck to the net on a consistent basis, it forces the opposition to cover the point more tightly, thus opening up a plethora of other options, including less coverage on sniper-extraordinaire Marian Gaborik. If Kotalik winds up on the point, you are looking at a first PP unit of Chris Higgins*-Chris Drury*-Marian Gaborik-Kotalik-Michal Rozsival/Wade Redden. I would say that’s a solid first unit, assuming they can deliver.
*-Side note: Drury is on the first unit because his splits on the powerplay last year were 10-10-20. Higgins instead of Callahan because he is a left handed shot,
to the two righties in Drury and Gaborik. Gaborik is a lefty, my mistake.
Torts is simply keeping his options open, and considering that Rozsival was the highest scoring Ranger defenseman on the power play last year with just 10 assists (and 3 goals), anyone that can produce as a power play quarterback will be looked at. Kotalik, as touched on above, has a cannon for a shot, but that means nothing if he a) doesn’t take the shot (see: Rozsival, Michal) or b) can’t get the shot on net. But of course, this all relies on someone being able to get him the puck. So that hole still needs to be filled, and hopefully one of the higher priced defensemen on the team can do that.