Saturday, November 8, 2008

What Else is New?

Tonight's First Star

Chris Doyle (2008 5th) is going to turn this place into Doyle's Park the way he has been playing as of late. Just when you think that Doyle is slowing down that Doyle comes up with another solid effort as he did on Friday evening.

The scoreboard is going to show that the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles scored 34 seconds into the overtime period to earn a 4-3 win over Doyle's Prince Edward Island Rocket. What might be overlooked is how Doyle had a hand in all 3 of the Rocket's goals including the one that forced the game into overtime.

For Doyle what more can one say that has not been said about the prospect who is sending the message about his desire for a Ranger contract. Doyle has now earned points in 9 straight games as he has gone 6-10-16.

In Friday's game, Doyle had a secondary assist on the Rocket's first goal at 7:08 of the second period. Doyle then followed it up with a primary assist on a power play at 8:49 of the same period to give a Rocket a short lived 2-1 lead.

In the third period with the Rocket trailing 3-2, Doyle scored his 11th goal of the season at 17:44 as we said to force the game into overtime. Along with the goal Doyle had 6 shots on net, was a +1, and went 6-6 on his face offs.

For the season, Doyle is now 11-20-31 which moves him into 4th place among the QMJHL scorers and now holds an 18 point lead over the closet prospect.


Once we get past the star of the night Chris Doyle then the news is not as good. First off 2008 1st round pick Michael Del Zotto of the Oshawa Generals missed Friday's game against the Kitchener Rangers with an injury. Since we do not have confirmation about the exact nature or extent of said injury then it will remain undisclosed for the time being.

Doyle has been struggling as of late and we believe that his injury has been hampering his game as well as his ability to practice.

The other bit of bad news is not really earth shattering but rather the end of the longest scoring streak in Prospect Park history as Evgeny Grachev (2008 3rd) saw his 10 game scoring streak come to an end as his Brampton Battalion extended their winning streak to 10 games with a 4-0 shut out of the Sudbury Wolves.

During the streak Grachev went 6-6-12 to build his season numbers up to 6-7-13.

While it is a shame to see the streak end, at the same time this is a golden opportunity for Ranger fans to see how Grachev responds to the end of his streak. Will we see a new streak start or a settling into a consistent scoring pattern or will this be just a flash?

Bet on the second choice as we see Grachev as good for 25-30 goals and the same number of assists.


The Rest of The Prospects

Don't tell anyone but Max Campbell (2007 5th) is quietly starting to rebuild his game and season after Campbell netted his 3rd goal of the season as his Western Michigan Broncos lost in the shoot out to the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks in CCHA play. The score goes into the books as a 2-2 tie but we can share an explanation with all of you.

Adam Bodnar, the Assistant Director of Media Relations for the Broncos explains how things are working for the teams of the CCHA with the shoot out. For conference play only, if you win ther shootout then it is 2 points, lose and it is just one which is just like the NHL.

That means thanks to Campbell's second period goal, his Broncos despite the 1-5-3 record have 4 points. It may not seem much to Ranger fans but it is helping the Broncos who despite their record are a much better team than it looks.

Just like Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) and his Wisconsin Badgers who's record of 2-6-1 is nothing like what the Badgers are really like. Nobody plays a tougher schedule than the Badgers but they finally have back to back wins after edging Michigan Tech 3-2 in WCHA action.

Stepan was scoreless but was part of the unit that scored 2 of the Badger goals in the game. We would like to see Stepan become a little more selfish and take his shot when he is in the offensive zone but as he told us; he is still adapting to the NCAA game so it will take a bit of time.

Not sure which was more interesting that 7th ranked Michigan with Carl Hagelin (2007 6th) lost to the Alaska Nanooks 4-1, that the Wolverines were not called for a single penalty or that Hagelin was a -2. We will say that it was the last item as the normally reliable Hagelin being a minus in any game is eye catching given his normal defensive strengths.

This was not a pretty game for Wolverine fans to watch as the Nanooks played a boring defensive minded game that made it hard to watch. Hagelin has now gone scoreless in back to back games after his 6 game scoring streak.

Goalie Antoine Lafleur (2007 2nd) suffered just his second loss of the season as his Rouyn-Noranda Huskies lost a 2-1 decision to the Arcadie-Bathurst Titan in QMJHL action. This very much is a case of where not enough work hurt Lafleur as he only faced 15 shots for the entire game which is less than half the number of shots that Lafleur faced last season with the Prince Edward Island Rocket.

Last season we said that Lafleur's numbers were more a reflection of the poor defensive game that was in front of him. This season Lafleur's defense in front of him just might be too good to help his development.

Then there is Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) who remains scoreless but all the signs are showing that his game is just about ready to break out. Kundratek who is playing for the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL has moved up to the starting lineup and the reports say that his adjustments to the North American game are progressing very well.

The Tigers were in Regina to take on the Pats who are one of the better teams in the WHL's Eastern Conference. The Tigers did not look bad but are a team that needs to find some consistent offense but one believes that once Kundratek adapts just like Grachev did then the Tiger offense will get a huge boost.

Right now the skinny on Kundratek is that he is rounding into form, adjusting to how his teammates play on the ice as well as bridging the language barrier with his North American teammates. We are watching Kundratek very closely these days and not just because he is a Ranger prospect.

Next week we will be looking at the growing trend in the WHL to shy away from using European players as well as how it just might affect Kundratek.

(Doyle's picture courtesy of the PEI Rocket)

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