Tag:Wojtek Wolski
Posted on: February 26, 2012 10:18 am
Edited on: February 26, 2012 12:00 pm

Morning Skate: Sharks, Wild meet desperate for W

Marleau and San Jose are in Minnesota. (US Presswire)

By Brian Stubits

The Morning Skate is back. Every morning for the rest of the season we're going to take a look at the games that have the greatest significance in the push for the postseason for you to digest while you drink your java. We'll throw in some miscellany for the fun of it.

Playoff Race

6 ET, San Jose at Minnesota

Here's a bit of a shocker: The San Jose Sharks wake up Sunday morning in seventh place in the Western Conference, only three points up on the three-way tie for eighth place. A nine-game road trip can do that to a team.

Those numbers are slightly skewed. The Sharks are the only team in spots 1-11 in the West that have played fewer than 62 games and the only team in the conference thus far who has played only 60. So there are games in hand on others in the picture, including the Coyotes, who now lead the Pacific Division outright.

That's why the final game of the trip today is a big one. Those games in hand mean nada if they aren't converted into points. They can't really afford to let the Coyotes get some separation in the division race with how incredibly hot they have been lately.

For the Wild, it means just staying in the race for that eighth seed. The magic number is more or less five points. If you fall any further behind that, the chances of coming back become very long. The Wild enter Sunday's game five points behind that logjam for eighth. The home games need to turn into two points for them.

With San Jose having lost eight of their last 11 games -- and the division lead -- it means we should have two desperate hockey teams on Sunday evening. Sounds like fun.

5 ET, Montreal at Florida

The Florida Panthers scored an absolutely huge win on Saturday night in Raleigh, taking down the Hurricanes in a shootout, 3-2. They were down 2-0 until Tomas Fleischmann hit for a score with 6:02 left and new addition Wojtek Wolski tied it with under two to play. It was Florida's third straight win on the road and vaulted them back into first in the Southeast while keeping games in hand on everybody else.

Ironically enough, while they have won three in a row on the road, they have lost four straight at home. That has to change if Florida wants to see the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade.

This represents the first chance a team in the Southeast Division will have a shot at reaching 70 points on the season, too. Oof. But at least Florida has played fewer games than any team, so they need to use these games in hand (four on Winnipeg, two on Washington) to push themselves back ahead of the division.

With Montreal coming to town, it's a perfect opportunity. The Canadiens have not won a game in regulation in their last six tries. The only win in that time came in a shootout four games ago. They enter today's matchup having scored two goals in the last three games, all losses.

But you can bet the Habs fans will still fill up the seats in Florida. It never quite feels like a road game for Montreal when it is in Sunrise. South Florida is a popular winter destination for the Quebecois, so Habs-Panthers is one of the rare tough tickets at the BankAtlantic Center.

3 ET, Vancouver at Dallas

That aforementioned logjam in the West? The Stars are part of it. By virtue of the tie-breakers at this point, the Stars are actually the team in the playoffs if they were to start today. Not too bad for a team that still seems to be a seller before tomorrow's trade deadline.

The Stars come into the game on a little roll, having won three in a row including Friday's 4-1 victory over the Wild. But the Canucks are a whole different cup of tea.

Vancouver has taken a lead on the Red Wings and Rangers in the Presidents' Trophy race and it would like to stay up there. The Northwest Division is damn near mathematically locked up already, they're up 18 points on Colorado. But that best record in the league is something worth fighting for, so this isn't a team that's already put it on cruise control.

Others worth watching

7 ET, Chicago at Anaheim: The up-and-down Blackhawks take on the desperate and hot Ducks. An Anaheim win could pull it within four of the eighth spot out West depending on results.

1 ET, Tampa Bay at New Jersey: It looked like the Lightning might have a little life a week ago, but not so much anymore. The Devils, though, are still fighting for that fourth spot in the East.

5 ET, Islanders at Ottawa: The above description of the Lightning describes the Islanders. The Senators are pretty safely in but still have an outside shot at the Northeast Division.

1 ET, Columbus at Pittsburgh: They most intriguing thing about this game -- other than how many points Evgeni Malkin can accumulate -- is if this is Rick Nash's final game with the Blue Jackets.

Your promised miscellany

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 25, 2012 1:13 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 1:27 pm

Wojtek Wolski traded to Panthers

PanthersBy: Adam Gretz

For the second day in a row the Florida Panthers added to their roster, this time by acquiring veteran forward Wojtek Wolski from the New York Rangers in exchange for a third-round draft pick and Michael Vernace according to TSN's Darren Dreger.

Wolksi has appeared in just nine games this season scoring no goals and recording three assists for the Rangers. He scored 12 goals during the 2010-11 season which he split between the Rangers and Phoenix Coyotes.

For the Rangers, the biggest value they may get from this deal, along with getting any sort of a return for Wolksi given how little he's played this season, is the simple fact that they were able to clear some salary cap space in advance of Monday's trade deadline (where the Rangers are rumored to be interested in adding Columbus' Rick Nash) dumping the remaining portion of Wolksi's $3.8 million cap hit for the season.

He's eligible for restricted free agency after this season.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: November 7, 2011 4:55 pm

Rangers' Wojtek Wolski to miss next month

By Brian Stubits

The Rangers announced on Monday that forward Wojtek Wolski will undergo surgery for a sports hernia. He will be out up to four weeks as a result.

The surgery will take place in Philadelphia (cue the conspiracy theorists!).

The folks in Ottawa might call this a case of poetic justice. Wolski did not face any supplementary discipline for his collision with Daniel Alfredsson a little over a week ago, a hit that concussed the Sens captain. Brendan Shanahan explained it as an accidental collision where Wolski was bracing for a hit.

In six games this season, Wolski has two assists. His first game back from the injury will be his 400th of his career and he is nine goals away from 100 for his career.

Rangers fans were hoping this would be the season Wolski showed the form he flashed in Phoenix when he had career highs with 80 games, 23 goals and 45 assists two seasons ago. Instead, he's dealing with his second injury of the young season (a groin issue sidelined him previously).

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: November 3, 2011 3:52 pm
Edited on: November 3, 2011 3:56 pm

Shanahan on suspensions and non-suspensions

By: Adam Gretz

When Brendan Shanahan handed out nine suspensions during the preseason the biggest question on our minds was whether or not that torrid pace would continue in the regular season, or if that was simply the message sending and adjustment phase.

A month into the regular season and, as of Thursday morning, Shanahan has issued just four suspensions that have totaled 11 games, while also issuing just two fines. For a comparison, on the same date last season under former NHL disciplinary czar Colin Campbell, the NHL had issued seven suspensions during the regular season that totaled 17 games, along with six fines.

After four suspensions for an illegal hit to the head during a one-week stretch in the preseason, we didn't see our first suspension for a similar play until this week when Edmonton's Andy Sutton received a five-game banishment for his hit to the head of Colorado Avalanche rookie Gabriel Landeskog. Are the players getting the message that was sent out during the preseason and starting to figure out what they are and aren't allowed to do? Or has Shanahan simply softened on what's worthy of a suspension? I think it's a combination of the two, and according to players like Nashville's Mike Fisher, who was on the receiving end of a questionable hit this past week, there is still some confusion from the players perspective.

I do think, simply based on nothing other than my own observations, that we have probably seen a bit of decrease in the number of blatant hits to the head. Whether or not that's because of the run of suspensions during the preseason, combined with the steady stream of video's breaking down each punishment, as well as the videos sent to each team demonstrating legal and illegal hits, is certainly up for debate. There just doesn't seem to be quite as many questionable hits as there were in recent seasons that have left us asking, "is this guy going to get suspended?"

But while they don't seem to be as frequent, they do still exist. Over the past week, for example, there have been a couple that drew some attention that resulted in no punishment from the league, including a play that involved Fisher getting hit by Francois Beauchemin, as well as Rangers forward Wojtek Wolski and his hit on Senators forward Daniel Alfredsson.

Shanahan appeared on NHL Live on Wednesday afternoon and addressed them.

"The first thing players want to know is what can't I do," said Shanahan. "And then the next, maybe just as important question is what can I do. And so we worked really hard in the offseason, players wanted us to get rid of illegal head shots, general managers wanted us to get rid of illegal head shots and I think the fans do to. And I think it's going to trickle down into minor hockey as well, so we talked a lot about this and we worked with the NHLPA, and players contributed to this, we talked about making a full body check."

At that point Shanahan went into a full description of why there was no discipline for Beauchemin:
"We felt that Beauchemin worked hard, right here he's blowing snow, he actually gets in front of Fisher, and he's blowing snow and digging in and he's hitting him in the chest, shoulder and unfortunately there is some incidental contact to the head, but we feel that's a full body check. We've asked the players to do hat, Beauchemin worked really hard to get in front of Fisher, maybe a year ago he doesn't and he hits him from the blindside. Even though he approached from the blindside he didn't deliver the hit, you saw the snow blowing, he got in front of him, stopped, dug in, kept his elbow down, kept his feet on the ice and delivered a hard hit."
And then on the on the Wolski/Alfredsson hit:
"Wolski's not a dirty player, and has no history of being a dirty player. There are collisions that occur on the ice where, unfortunately, one player sees it just prior. On this play here, Wolski has got to get out to his point. You see here, Gaborik, the left winger, has to come all the way to Wolski's point on the right side because Wolski's not there. He ran into Alfredsson trying to get there."

"We've seen enough of these now, and I don't like these, but we've seen enough of them where when one player sees the hit just prior, he tenses up. And sometimes he even leans in because he's bracing for an impact. When both guys see it, it's two guys tensing up and they bounce off each other and everybody's fine. It's really unfortunate here, when one player doesn't see it and the other guy does."

"Now, if I felt this was intentional, or if it wasn't at the last instant, just prior. If I might have felt there was any kind of sneakiness or history of these types of offenses for Wolski, he would have been suspended."
Shanahan's emphasis on prior history, and whether or not a player has a reputation for being a dirty player or a track record of illegal hits has sparked some discussion as well as the concern that there is still way too much inconsistency when it comes to player discipline. Should it really matter if a player has or has not been guilty of an illegal hit in the past when he does eventually commit one? Of course not. An illegal play is an illegal play whether or not it's delivered by Wojtek Wolski, a player with no prior history, or Daniel Carcillo, a player with a lengthy history. Not suspending a player like Wolski because he's never done it before almost seems as if it's giving players one free pass before they get punished.

It's either legal or it's not.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: October 31, 2011 7:11 pm

Alfredsson has concussion, Sens GM not happy

By Brian Stubits

Just when things are going good for the surprising Ottawa Senators, they get word that their captain, Daniel Alfredsson, is going to be out for at least a week after sustaining a concussion.

Alfredsson took a hit from Wojtek Wolski of the New York Rangers in Saturday's 5-4 OT Sens win in New York. The league decided not to take any action against Wolski for the hit, concluding he was bracing in anticipation of contact.

Sens GM Bryan Murray was less than pleased with the decision and shared it with Allen Panzeri of Senators Extra.

“There were be no suspension, it was a hockey hit,” said Murray.

“Basically, what I was told was that [Wolski] reacted to contact and stiffened up but didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. Just happened to hit Alfredsson in the head.”

Murray told Shanahan he didn’t -- couldn’t -- agree.

“Well, it’s my player, and I have an emotional attachment to it, so no,” he said.

“I told him I didn’t agree. I felt that the player did go out of his way, a little, to make contact, that it was an elbow involved in the play.

“I thought we had determined that a shoulder check ... would be considered an accidental hit, but an elbow to the head I was under the impression there would be a suspension.

Speaking for myself, I concur with Murray on this one. It seemed like a hit that was worthy of further punishment, and I explained more why here. But what I find most interesting here is that this is the most vocal criticism -- even if it is mild in this case -- of Shanahan from inside an organization.

But getting back to Alfredsson, he will now be out until his post-concussion symptoms disappear. There never is any way of truly telling when that might happen, so while the Senators are enjoying a six-game win streak, in the back of their minds they will be thinking of their captain.

In the Sens' start, Alfie has scored four goals and contributed with three assists.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: October 30, 2011 8:01 pm
Edited on: October 30, 2011 8:03 pm

Wolski, Beauchemin won't face punishment for hits

By Brian Stubits

Wojtek Wolski and Francois Beauchemin? You are safe. Neither player will face further discipline for their hits on Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher respectively over the weekend.

Wolski's hit in question came in Saturday's tilt with the Senators in New York. In the play, Wolski hits Alfredsson high on the play away from the puck and drew a minor penalty for the hit that left Alfredsson down on the ice.

Alfredsson missed Sunday night's game against the Maple Leafs because of the hit.

So what was the reasoning the league isn't acting further on the hit? Here's the explanation from Kevin Allen at USA Today: "The league view on the Wolski hit was that Wolski was bracing for impact when Alfredsson skated into him."

Plays like this one not getting more discipline will likely only confuse people as to what is and is not a bad hit. The line seemed to be coming into clarity, but this will only blur it once again. This seemed like a textbook suspension hit at first glance.

The Beauchemin hit on Fisher is much easier to see as not being worthy of discipline.

Here is the hit for your digestion.

Here is the reasoning from Allen in Beauchemin's case: "The league's view was that Beauchemin's hit was a full body check with incidental head contact."

Now this one I can agree with. It is a vicious-looking hit, especially with Beauchemin going airborne on the hit. However, the main contact definitely looks to be on the body, not the head.

For his two cents, Beauchemin said after the game he wasn't concerned about a suspension.

“I’m only concerned about his health," Beauchemin said. "I’m just hoping he’s OK because I think that was just a clean hit shoulder to shoulder. Looking at the replay myself, I think his head might have hit the ice when he fell down. And that’s probably how he got hurt.”

Like Alfredsson, Fisher is going to miss some time after taking the blow.

More NHL Discipline News Here

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: July 16, 2011 6:22 pm
Edited on: July 16, 2011 11:14 pm

Jarret Stoll had the best shootout season ever

By: Adam Gretz

Six years since it's been introduced to the NHL and I'm still not quite sure how I feel about the shootout. On one hand, I agree with the traditionalists that hate having 65 minutes of hockey (regulation and overtime) decided by a series of breakaways. On the other hand, it can be pretty awesome to watch from an entertainment point of view, especially if you're lucky enough to catch somebody like Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk or Edmonton's Linus Omark (seriously, check him out).

Regardless, it's turned out to be a pretty important aspect of the post-lockout NHL and can have an impact on the standings. Having a go-to guy can be a nice advantage for a team, but the problem is trying to figure out who that go-to guy is. Supremely talented players like Evgeni Malkin (7-for-29 in his career) and Jaromir Jagr (5-for-22 before he went to the KHL) have been pretty awful, while a player like Jarret Stoll, one that's not really known for being an offensive powerhouse, has demonstrated periods of dominance.

During the 2010-11 season, Stoll, a member of the Los Angeles Kings, was called on by head coach Terry Murray 10 times and managed to convert on nine of them -- including his final seven attempts -- a success rate of 90 percent for the season. I went back to the 2005-06 season (the year the shootout was put in place) and put together a list of every player that attempted a mininum of eight shots in a single season (250) to see how that 90 percent mark stacked up. It turned out to be the best mark in the history of the shootout at the NHL level, and by a pretty decent margin.

Here are the ten best single season shootout performances...

Best Single Season Shootout Performances
Player Season Attempts Goals Percentage
Jarret Stoll 2010-11 10 9 90%
Wojtek Wolski 2008-09 12 10 83.3%
Sidney Crosby 2009-10 10 8 80%
Patrick Kane 2007-08 9 7 77.8%
Jussi Jokinen 2005-06 13 10 76.9%
Slava Kozlov 2008-09 8 6 75%
Miroslav Satan 2005-06 10 7 70%
Viktor Kozlov 2005-06 12 8 66.7%
Jaroslav Balastik 2005-06 9 6 66.7%
Matt Cullen 2005-06 9 6 66.7%

If you go back and watch the shots Stoll scored you might be surprised to see that there's really nothing fancy going on. He typically skates down the middle of the ice and simply lets go a quick slapshot between the circles, beating goaltenders over the glove hand just under the crossbar. It's a strategy I've often wondered why more players don't attempt. How many times do you see a player attempt a slick move only to have the puck roll off his stick?

Still, Stoll's place at the top of the list is fascinating when you consider he's not really known for being a huge goal-scorer, and because prior to last season he had scored on just four of his 13 previous shootout attempts in his career.

Even more fascinating is the list of players that have had the worst single season shootout performances...

Worst Single Season Shootout Performances
Player Season Attempts Goals Percentage
Vincent Lecavalier 2009-10 8 1 12.5%
Niklas Hagman 2010-11 8 1 12.5%
Phil Kessel 2010-11 8 1 12.5%
Jarome Iginla 2005-06 9 1 11.1%
Ryan Kesler 2007-08 9 1 11.1%
Andy McDonald 2006-07 10 1 10.%
Iyla Kovalchuk 2005-06 10 1 10%
Mike Ribeiro 2009-10 12 1 8.3%
Wojtek Wolski 2009-10 15 1 6.7%
James Neal 2009-10 10 0 0.00%

First, that list has some pretty good players on it, and players that you would expect to be able to score at will in a shootout (Kovalchuk). But look at Wojtek Wolski, the only player to appear on both lists. He went from being the best shootout performer in 2008-09 (and the second best ever) to the worst shootout performer (and the second worst ever) in 2009-10. That is incredible.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @agretz on Twitter.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com