Saturday, October 18, 2008

Not Bad At All

First Star

We have been waiting for Micheal Del Zotto to show us the player who impressed us with his performances at both Traverse City and at the Ranger Training Camp. While Del Zotto has not played all that badly, one expects more from a first round draft pick.

On Saturday night we got to see at the very least a good glimpse of the future after Del Zotto had a goal and 2 assists as his Oshawa Generals lost in the shootout to the London Knights 4-3.

Forget the outcome of the game as to us what mattered the most was seeing Del Zotto showcase himself as a player at both ends of the ice. What we liked was that each of Del Zotto's points came from a different situation, each point brought the Generals into a tie.

Del Zotto got his scoring started by setting up teammate Brett Parnham shorthanded goal at 17:05 of the first period to tie the game at 1-1.

In the second period, Del Zotto added his second goal (and second power play goal) of the season off a feed from John Tavares at 10:26 of the second period to tie the game at 2-2. Later in the the period with the Generals trailing 3-2, Del Zotto set up John Tavares for an even strength goal which was the last goal scored in regulation.

With neither team able to score in the third period and overtime, the teams went to the shoot out and Del Zotto missed on his chance (0 for 2 on the season in SO) as did John Tavares allowing the Knights to win 4-3.

It still was a very solid effort from Del Zotto who now is 2-10-12 on the season after his 3 point effort. Now the key for Del Zotto is to string together a few of these games. If Del Zotto can do that then both the Rangers and Generals will benefit from it.

Second Star

One night after a very poor performance offensively, Carl Hagelin and his 2nd ranked Michigan Wolverines responded with a convincing 5-3 win over Northern Michigan in CCHA action on Saturday evening.

Hagelin had a career high for both points and assists in a single game as Hagelin had 3 assists including on the game winning goal for the Wolverines.

It was an impressive performance not only by Hagelin but also his linemates Matt Rust (2-1-3) and Aaron Palushaj (1-3-4) as the Wolverine first line combined for 3-7-10 on the evening.

Even better was the Wolverines killing off 6 more power plays giving the Wolverines a 2-21 penalty kill which is a 92% penalty kill rate for the PK unit led by Hagelin.

Hagelin after 4 games is 1-5-6 +5 which is a nice start on the season for the sophomore from Sweden. Michigan returns home for a non-conference game against Niagara on a rare Thursday evening game.

Third Star

The box score only shows a secondary assist but this was one of those nights for Chris Doyle where the numbers did not tell the story. Doyle's assist was just a secondary one but it did come on the game winning overtime goal as Doyle's Prince Edward Island Rocket scored with just 35 second remaining in overtime to earn a 2-1 over the Acadie-Bathurst Titan on the road.

Doyle who's run at center appears to have come to an end was more agressive on offense playing on the wing as he had a season high 7 shots on goal. Doyle according to reports looked more relaxed as he let the game come to him instead of trying to force the action.

For Doyle that assist allows him to maintain his lead at the head of the prospect scoring list as Doyle is 5-8-13 in 10 games. We do want to see some more hitting out of Doyle as for a player to only have 2 "good hits" after 10 games will not get him a professional contract.

The Rest of the Prospect Action

Antoine Lafleur gave up 5 goals in his return to the net on Saturday but this time Lafleur came away with the win as his Rouyn-Noranda Huskies edged the Lewiston MAINEaic 7-5 in QMJHL action. For Lafleur it was his 2nd win of the season but he has a very long way to go if he wants to shake several of the negative labels he earned last season.

Lafleur was credited with 27 shots but only 6 shots earned the "dangerous" (scoring chance) label to them. Not to mention all 5 goals came at even strength so Lafleur needs to show some kind of improvement if he wants to keep his starting position.

Derek Stepan had another very quiet night for the Wisconsin Badgers dropped a 7-4 road WCHA match with rival Denver University in a penalty filled game. All the reports we have seen from the game say that Stepan is still trying to feel his way and adjusting to the speed of the NCAA level of play.

Stepan we are told will be fine as the season progresses so we are not worried about his lack of productivity. If anything we like that he has been holding his own as the Badgers have yet to play a home hockey game this season.

Call it a hunch but when Stepan does start scoring, it will be with a bang. Natural goal scorers like Stepan is eventually do adapt and adjust to their situation so it is just a matter of when Stepan will break out and start scoring.

Max Campbell was not in the Western Michigan lineup as WMU dropped a heartbreaking 6-5 overtime decision to Minnesota Duluth. WMU has only themselves to blame giving up 4 goals in the 3rd period.

We hate to report when one of the prospects is a healthy scratch but that was the situation. The hope is that for Campbell it is a wake up call and that he responds to it in a positive manner.

We do wish to correct our report from yesterday as the Western Michigan/Minnesota Duluth was not a conference game but rather non-conference.

(pictures- Del Zotto- New York Rangers, Carl Hagelin-Michigan Wolverines, Chris Doyle-PEI)

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