Wojtek Wolski broke his 11-game goal drought Tuesday, scoring at a crucial time in the Washington Capitals‘ victory over the Boston Bruins. But it was his all-around performance that kept the forward in the lineup for Thursday night’s game against the Florida Panthers.
“He has to play the game,” coach Adam Oates said. “If you play the game correct, he’s got the skill set, he’ll get some points. For me, I need him to play solid.”
Oates said goal-scoring from Wolski is a “bonus,” but that’s one of the primary reasons the 27-year-old forward is here. Signed to a one-year, $600,000 contract in the offseason, he has just three goals in 20 games.
“I had a game in Philly where I could’ve been better on the boards, I think, and a couple games before that I struggled a little bit,” Wolski said. “I think [I need to be] executing and making sure I’m good with the puck coming out of our zone.”
Wolski was a healthy scratch Saturday at the Winnipeg Jets, and he could be back in the press box if his play slips back to that level soon.
“Everybody’s got a leash,” Oates said. “So much of the game today is being able to get the puck out over your own blue line, chip it in, put it in the right spot in their end so we can forecheck and get territory and wear them out. … The scoring will come if you do that. The more we’re in their end, the more we’ll score. The more we whiff it in our own end, the more we’re in trouble.”
For the second time in eight days, the Caps recalled goaltender Philipp Grubauer from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League to serve as Braden Holtby’s backup because Michal Neuvirth was sick.
Neuvirth hasn’t played a game since Feb. 7, when he allowed two goals on 11 shots at the Pittsburgh Penguins and was pulled. He would have started Feb. 27 at the Philadelphia Flyers had he not been sick.
“There’s some things you can’t control,” Oates said. “I feel bad for him.”
With the Caps set to visit the New York Islanders and host the New York Rangers on back-to-back afternoons Saturday and Sunday, Oates had planned on giving Neuvirth one of those starts to spell Holtby.
Grubauer, who was not on the ice for Thursday’s morning skate, made his NHL debut in relief at Philadelphia, stopping all 14 shots he faced.View Entire Story
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