To win in the playoffs you need your stars to play to their capabilities, but you also need a few unsuspecting players to step their game up and bring more than might be expected of them. For the Rangers heading into their series against the Washington Capitals Wojtek Wolski and Chris Drury are two wild cards that would greatly improve the chances of victory with strong play.
Wolski started strong for the Rangers and then tailed off to point of being a healthy scratch, but he played a critical role in each of the team’s final two victories during the regular season. The skill has never been the question for Wolski, rather the effort and impact he has on the ice. Wolski can be a top line talent and since being put with Derek Stepan and Vinny Prospal he has shown more of that talent. Against the Bruins he played excellent hockey and was instrumental in both Vinny Prospal goals that gave the Rangers life to make the comeback possible. Against the Devils he scored early in the second period to tie the game after the Devils had taken the lead late in period one. If that goal does not happen when it did there is no telling how the rest of the game plays out because of the tension both in the crowd and the team the longer it took for them to get back to even. These two games are the kinds of efforts that could make Wolski a key piece that isn’t necessarily accounted for when first analyzing the Rangers in a series. If the other version of Wolski shows up the Rangers are likely to struggle for offense during the playoffs.
Chris Drury has had a horrendous season. Between battling injuries and a lack of production when he has been on the ice the Rangers captain has been written off by many. What Drury can bring to the team is playoff experience, penalty killing, faceoffs and leadership. Do not expect him to go out and produce a lot of points, but the intangibles he can bring are important to a team as young as the Rangers are. In the right role, Drury can still be a valuable asset to this club in the playoffs. With Drury there is the concern over how healthy the knee is in terms of not only how effective he can be, but how long he will last in the lineup.
Neither of these two players will win or lose the series by themselves, but in each series role players can find big moments to have an impact and both of these players, whether it be the skill of Wolski or the experience of Drury have the ability to change a game in one of those crucial moments.