Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ah Tuesday the Tomas Day of the Week

Tonight's Star Tomas Kundratek

Nothing helps to show how smart you are than when someone backs up your words as was the case of Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) and his efforts at the World Under-20 Championships.

Kundratek who is going to be our prospect highlight in the next issue of the Blueshirt Bulletin is starting to show his offensive side as he did in having 2 primary assists as the Czech Republic shut out Germany 6-0 in the WJC.

Actually we have to give the props to our good friend Dave Andjelic the Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the Medicine Hat Tigers. It was Dave who said that Kundratek had offensive firepower, that if not for his wrist injury (suffered in the preseason) that Kundratek's numbers would be much better.

Kundratek showed the side of his game that the Tigers said was there and what we had been waiting to see. Kundratek was on the attack looking to shoot and taking the game to Germany instead of just being a defender. The results were the 2 primary assists; one on the power play and the other at even strength which may have saved the Czechs from the WJC relegation round.

Kundratek took 5 shots overall, was a +2 and as Kundratek moved to 0-3-3 for the WJC which is half of his offensive output with the Tigers. If Kundratek brings this kind of game back to Medicine Hat after the WJC then the rest of the WHL had best look out for the Tigers.


In a way we have been a tad disappointed with Evgeny Grachev (2008 3rd) as if Russia has any serious hopes of earning a gold medal at the WJC then Grachev needs to be the player that has been with the Brampton Battalion. Just one assist in 3 games (and a secondary one at that) is not what Grachev is capable of.

Don't get us wrong we are huge fans of Grachev and thought that the WJC would be a great stage for him to show his improvement. We have seen Grachev under international conditions before and know he is a prime time player.

Grachev is a player who with his size is bigger and stronger than the majority of those he plays against. IF Russia wants to defeat Sweden and get that medal round bye then Grachev needs to step his game up as we know he can.

The Swedes have a monster of a player on their roster named Victor Hedman (6'6 220) and Grachev can open the door for his Russian teammates if he becomes the force that we know he is. Force the Swedes to use Hedman against Grachev and then Filatov and friends will have a better chance at defeating Sweden.

Against Slovakia (yes an easy 8-1 Russian win), Grachev had his assist but it is just the one shot that bothers us. Grachev has at the very least 5 different types of shots in which he can score with, yet we are not seeing him looking for them.

We hope that Grachev in the medal round shows Ranger fans why we are so very high on him by being the weapon that he really is.

Speaking of disappointing, Antoine Lafleur (2007 2nd) is Ranger ready if you want to measure his inconsistency. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing a prospect who has a ton of tools to work with and just can not put together a long streak of games.

Lafleur earned himself the hook after giving up 3 goals in a span of 3:56 of the second period but was spared the loss when his Rouyn-Noranda Huskies won a 5-4 overtime game over the Val-d'Or Foreurs.

What is so frustrating is that Lafleur only faced 6 shots in 23:56 of action and there is no excusing that kind of play. We like the prospect, think if he ever can put his game together will be a player but what can we do after efforts like this one?

Memo to Chris Doyle (2008 5th); we have seen your offensive side, we have seen your fighting side and Tuesday we saw your hitting side but can we see all those sides in the same game please? Doyle had a secondary assist on the game winning goal as his Prince Edward Island Rocket defeated the Halifax Mooseheads in overtime 2-1.

The assist was nice but someone put the "hit everything that moves" bug into him as Doyle wound up with a pretty nice 6 "good" hits to go along with the assist (point #51 on the season), 2-2 on faceoffs, +1 with 3 shots on goal.

Michael Del Zotto (2008 1st) had an assist to give him 6-24-30 in 30 games but his Oshawa Generals lost to the Guelph Storm 5-4. Del Zotto is in a "no-win" situation with the Generals as they are looking more and more like they will move super prospect John Tavares when the WJC is over so Del Zotto is going to be a lot like Michael Sauer was with Portland a couple of seasons ago.

Expecting him to do too much at the expense of his own professional development. Nothing against the Generals but we pray that they move Del Zotto to an OHL playoff contender where he can play his game not try to carry a team. If they do then Ranger fans will get to see a solid prospect instead of that very misleading -10 that Del Zotto is carrying.

Tysen Dozwak (2008 UFA) and his Kelowna Rockets bounced back from their loss to the Vancouver Giants with a 2-1 win over the Prince George Cougars. Dowzak was his typical scoreless game with a -1 but had 4 PIMs.

(Kundratek courtesy of Tim Machan/Medicine Hat Tigers)

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