Saturday, November 15, 2008

Remember Me?

First Star

Hello do you know me? I was the Ranger's first round pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft but so far my season has not gone so well. I have been struggling because my team is rebuilding and I just missed 3 games due to an "undisclosed" injury.

So Friday evening Michael Del Zotto returned to the Oshawa General's lineup and did so with a 3 point evening as Del Zotto had the game winning goal as the Generals defeated the Sarnia Sting 4-1 in OHL action.

It was a nice return to the lineup for Del Zotto as he got his evening going by teaming up with John Tavares as they set up the first of Brett Parnham's 3 goals at 12:13 of the first period to give the Generals a 1-0 lead.

In the second period, Del Zotto got just his 3rd goal of the season as Del Zotto took a feed from Tavares and beat Sarnia goalie Dan Spence at 9:06 for a 2-0 General lead.

Finally in the 3rd period, Del Zotto teamed once again with Tavares as they fed Brett Parnham for his hat trick goal at 19:18 to finish up the scoring at 4-1. Del Zotto earned the game's second star for his efforts so now that Del Zotto is "healthy" then we want to see more nights like these.

That is the price a first round pick has to pay when the microscope is on you. We also do believe that by mid-season that we will be shocked if Del Zotto is still wearing a General's uniform.

Second Star

When we last watched, Antoine Lafleur (2007 2nd) was getting yanked during his return to Prince Edward Island. On Friday evening, Lafleur started the evening on the bench as the backup but when starter Matthew Dopud gave up 4 goals on 11 shots, in came Lafleur at 11:11 of the second period.

Lafleur gave up one goal in the period and then shut down the Acadie-Bathurst Titan as his Rouyn-Noranda Huskies scored 3 goals in the 3rd period to first force overtime and then Lafleur stopped 2 Titan shoot out attempts to a 6-5 come from behind win.

For Lafleur it was his 5th win on the season and was exactly the kind of effort he needed to have after the loss to PEI. Lafleur has shown that he has the tools to be a solid goalie but his inconsistency is what holds him back.

It is interesting to note that Lafleur has played his best hockey when he has been with the Rangers as well as goalie coach Benoit Allaire. Lafleur just might be Allaire's most challenging project but a 6'5 goalie who has the tools and can be developed is going to make for a very interesting project to watch.


The Rest of the Prospects

While we knew that sooner or later that Chris Doyle (2008 5th) and his scoring streak was going to end and it did finally end at 10 games. It is how his streak ended that has us a bit upset at the refs of this game.

At the 1:24 mark of the 3rd period, Doyle received a 5 minute major as well as a game misconduct for "hitting from behind" on the Montreal Junior's T. J. Brennan. Our problem is that in the tape we saw (Telus archive PEI/Montreal 1:43:00) Doyle going into a corner and Brennan losing his own skate edge just as Doyle was going to check him.

We dislike dirty play as much as the next person but this hit was neither dirty nor dangerous as Brennan jumped right back up and skated right to the bench. The trainers never even had to treat Brennan who never missed a shift.

It was not the kind of ending we expected out of Doyle's scoring streak as it ends at 10 games with Doyle 7-13-20. Now as we asked of Grachev, the test is going to be how will Doyle respond to it's ending.

In the WHL, Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) earned his second point of the season as his Medicine Hat Tigers won their second straight shoot out game against the Edmonton Oil Kings, this time 3-2 as the Tigers earned a sweep of this home and home series.

Kundratek set up Brendan Bosch's 9th goal in the first period to give the Tigers an early 1-0 lead. The Tigers and the Oil Kings played each other very closely and these last 2 games were a lot closer than even the shoot out results show.

Staying in the WHL, the scoreboard will show that the Vancouver Giants defeated Tysen Dowzak (2008 UFA) and his Kelowna Rockets 5-3. This game was televised on Shaw and was a fun game to watch even though Dowzak was a -2.

The Giants jumped out to a 4-0 lead before the Rockets scored 3 third period goals to set up a great finish. The Giants had to fight off a furious rush before scoring an empty net goal to put the Rockets away.

In the battle of Ranger college prospects, Carl Hagelin (2007 6th) scored his 2nd goal of the season on the power play but Max Campbell (2007 5th) and his Western Michigan Broncos upset Hagelin's 8th ranked Michigan Wolverines 2-1.

Campbell actually took a slashing minor that led to Hagelin's goal as well as a second penalty but Hagelin's Wolverines continued their pattern of suspect play. For the Campbell and his Broncos this win was huge as it was just their 2nd regular season win on the season giving them a 2-6-3 record.

Hagelin's Wolverines fell to 7-4 on the season and this one should knock the Wolverines out of the Top Ten when the polls come out on Monday.

Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) was the starting right wing as his Wisconsin Badgers extended their unbeaten streak to 4 games as the Badgers tied Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs 3-3 in WCHA action.

Stepan was held scoreless but actually did not play badly as he had a couple of good scoring chances. The Badgers are getting closer to the 500 mark which is good news for them and bad news for the rest of college hockey.

Danny Hobbs (2007 7th) was not in the UMass lineup which was a major shame as UMass pulled off the upset of the season by knocking off top ranked Boston University 5-1 in Hockey East action. We believe that Hobbs was a healthy scratch but can not get confirmation on that.

(Pictures Del Zotto- New York Rangers, Antonie Lafleur- Dubi Silverstein)

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