To gauge the impact of a player, you can look at him two ways. What does he contribute, and the deficit to the team when he is not in the lineup. For Rostislav Klesla, his contributions are all over the ice. The fourth overall pick in the 2000 draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets, he has been one of GMDM’s best acquisitions after being rescued from CBJ in a trade for Scottie Upshall (now in Florida) and Sami Lepisto (now in Chicago). Klesla is known for his physical play and his ability to always be in the right spot at the correct time.
During the regular season, he had 13 points (3G, 3A) and was a +13. Considered he was the defensive backbone of the penalty kill, that is a very amazing stat. Considering also the high backbone of the PK is Martin Hanzal, and he was out of several games due to injury. Mike Smith can play his way when he sees #16 in front of him. In 65 games, Rusty had 112 hits and 150 blocked shots. Ranking him 26th in the league in overall blocked shots, that is an average of 2.3 per game. Factor in if he worn a shield all year and not missed 15 games due to taking a puck in the face, it would have translated to an amazing 184 blocked shots. This would have tied him for 7th in the league. Can you imagine your the opposition coach and game planning. “Let’s see, Klesla will body check you and block the subsequent shot, Derek Morris will rip your head off and jaw at you for bleeding on him. OEL will just smile as he rushes up ice with incredible grace and flawless skating. How about a shot from the outside fellas?”
Last night he, to quote Keith Jones of The Intermission Report on NBC Sports, said that Rusty “was rushing and not just crushing” when he pinched in the offensive zone, took the puck away from Craig Smith of Nashville and went to the net. He tried to pass it to the goal mouth, but the puck was knocked right back to him. Instantly his body was in perfect shooting position and he buried it in the back of the net. As he was rushing in to pinch the puck that was on the boards near the hash marks, he looked over his right shoulder to see that the Nashville player who was sneaking up ice was covered by a red jersey. Defensive responsibilities first.
Finally, we need to have a talk about the importance of visors. It will be a larger article later this week.