Maybe “doghouse” isn’t the right word to use here, but after three games back in the lineup Wojtek Wolski has found himself back on the fourth line with minimal ice time. Used as an injury replacement for Brandon Dubinsky, Wolski was flying in his first game back (the 3-0 loss to the Senators). After that, it appeared that the winger was back to his old ways, as he played just 12 shifts for 7:20 in the Rangers 3-0 win over Toronto.
Last night, the winger was used sparingly at best, finishing with 11 shifts and 6:20 of ice time. Wolski was on the ice with Kris Newbury –called up to replace the injured Ruslan Fedotenko– and Mike Rupp for three of the Canadiens goals last night. Wolski finished with a -3 rating that was very indicative of his play: sloppy, lazy, and poor in his own end.
The Rangers focus this year has been on a team game, with players willing to go through a wall for coach John Tortorella. Wolski does not appear to fit that mold. His play in his own end has always been poor, but it’s more about the lack of effort displayed by the winger. Wolski can be a great player, but that’s only when he wants to be. The Rangers want to be great players for each other and for the coach –a view Wolski does not share.
When Wolski has played, he has been in the bold of Erik Christensen: some great shifts, but mostly just shifts consisting of poor defensive play, and poor play away from the puck. That does not fit in with this Rangers club.
In the end, Wolski likely won’t be back next year, and there’s an outside chance that he won’t even be a Ranger at the end of the season. Be it by trade, demotion, or straight up cutting him loose, Wolski is not a part of the future of the team. It’s a shame too, because he’s a tremendous talent that could be very successful in this league if he just cared on a daily basis.