W2W4: Canadiens vs. Rangers

The Rangers are back in action at the Garden Tuesday night and the Blog will be there for our rapid reaction. But first, here are three factors to focus on when the puck drops. See if you can detect a theme.

Which Wolski Is This?

Wojtek Wolski, acquired yesterday from the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for Michal Rozsival, is expected to be available for Tuesday’s game with the Montreal Canadiens. Now the question becomes, exactly which Wojtek Wolski will Rangers fans get to see?

The knock on the Polish winger is his fluctuating effort level. Sometimes (which equates to “far too often” for Phoenix GM Don Maloney) Wolski just doesn’t turn on the jets come game time, which put him in the Coyotes’ doghouse and ultimately on the trading block. But other times Wolski can be a tremendous offensive asset. Last season, Wolski scored 65 points in 80 regular season games between Colorado and Phoenix, then added four goals and an assist in the Yotes’ playoff series loss to Detroit.

If the Rangers can coax out the latter Wolski, they could have finally found the complementary winger for Marian Gaborik that Alexander Frolov was supposed to be. If Wolski still wants to mail it in, well, the Blueshirts still gained $1.2 million in cap room.

How Will The D Do?

Though he was derided for the fact his performance on the ice didn’t justify his $5 million per season contract, Rozsival was a solid contributor on the Rangers’ blue line, particularly this season. The development of the Blueshirts prospects, particularly Michael Sauer, seems to have made the veteran Rozsival expendable. But as GM Glen Sather admitted in the media conference call, it’s a gamble.

The Rangers’ defensive corps now average just 24 years of age, which is almost prenatal relative to some blue lines. So how will the youngin’s perform? Will they get flustered if they give up a goal? What about crunch time?

Beginning tonight, those are questions Sather will have to monitor between now and the trading deadline.

Does Size Matter?

The Canadiens sometimes seem like a group of gnats swarming the net. With diminutive forwards Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta and Mike Cammalleri, the Habs sport a very short, but very, very fast group of forwards. That presents an interesting challenge for the physical Blueshirts.

Do the Rangers try to line these guys up for big hits, which could really do some damage given the size differential, or not? If they get them, they put the hurt on. If they miss, they may give up more than a few odd-man rushes.