At times it seems like asking Michal Rozsival to talk about the importance of shooting is like asking a third-grader to expound on the virtues of broccoli. He might know it’s good for him, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to do anything about it.
And so it was today with Rozsival, who despite his relatively low profile on this team, is actually an engaging interview. I asked him about my argument from earlier this morning, that some of his misadventures from the point last night might reinforce his reluctance to shoot. Rozsival smiled, and then said he’s aware of the need to shoot more on the power play.
“You want to shoot the puck as much as you can because it forces the opposition to back off and the shots give you more room on top for the defenseman, and more room to work with,” Rozsival said. “Plus, any shots create more opportunities for you and it gets the defending team running around. So you want to shoot as much as you can.”
But then Rozsival added, “But you also want to pick your spots. If there’s no good pass and you try to force it, then you fall on your face as it happened to me the last game.”
As he did last night, Tom Renney said he’s considering deploying different personnel on the man-advantage to shake it out of its mid-autumn slumber. That could mean less ice time for Rozsival on the power play, a decision I think most fans would endorse. And yet the irony is that when I asked Renney about where Rozsival’s shot ranks among his defensive corps, the coach paused for a moment before adding, “He might be No. 1. He’s got a great shot. I’ve even been tempted to use him in a shootout, and encourage him not to deke.”
So why doesn’t Rozsival shoot more? In part because the shots everyone thinks are there actually aren’t. And because there’s some part of his brain that obviously thinks he’s better off distributing the puck to others.
Some might call that unselfish. Many Rangers fans call it infuriating.
Some other notes:
<li>Stephen Valiquette will indeed get the start tomorrow night in Toronto against the Leafs. This is all part of the fine print of the backup goaltender’s contract that says he has to play every game against Toronto and Philadelphia, and that most of those games have to be shootouts.
OK, I’m making that part up, but it certainly feels that way. The reality is this game does make sense for Valiquette, in part becauseof his recent success against Toronto, but also because it comes on the heels of Henrik Lundqvist playing six straight games. Once upon a time — like say, last season — six games was nothing. But the Rangers know there’s no point in running their franchise goalie ragged so early in the season.
<li>New lines alert! And this time I’m pretty sure about it. Tom Renney moved Dan Fritsche up to a line with Markus Naslund and Chris Drury while he reunited the Playstation line of Aaron Voros, Nikolai Zherdev, and Brandon Dubinsky. The Scott Gomez and Blair Betts lines look to remain intact, although Gomez sat out practice with what Tom Renney called “maintenance,” so Petr Prucha was in the center’s spot between Ryan Callahan and Nigel Dawes.
For what it’s worth, I was a fan of Callahan and Dawes with Gomez to start, but it’s safe to say they’re on the clock — or at least Dawes is. While Callahan has scored twice and been moderately effective in getting shots on net, Dawes, as many of you have pointed out, has seemed adrift of late. He did have five shots last night, but other than one from in close on Kari Lehtonen, he was never a serious scoring threat.