Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Seriously Strange Sunday

This is the time of year when you have to take the results of the games with a grain of salt. Teams that normally have been doing well during the season wind up in some strange games.

Most teams are missing their very best players due to selection camps for the World Under-20 championships so some of the results are at times stranger than strange.

Today's Star Evgeny Grachev

The Ranger's 2008 3rd round pick heads to the Russian National team on a positive note as Grachev scored 2 goals to bring his season total to 19 as the Brampton Battalion broke a 2 game losing streak with a 9-2 pounding of the Niagara IceDogs.

Grachev's goals were part of another Brampton record as the Troop tied a team record for most goals in a period with 6 in the first period. Grachev got his first 18:02 as he used a snap shot to score from the slot and followed it up at 19:48 on the power play to give the Troop a 6-0 lead.

Grachev earned the game's second star for his play and now leads Ranger prospects in goals with 19. In addition, Grachev is also the leading rookie scorer in the OHL as well as 17th overall at 19-16-35.

After going 2 straight games with any goals the Troop get to enter their holiday break with a good depth win as 7 players scored goals. So now Grachev gets to join his Russian teammates to get ready for the World Juniors.


Normally Prospect Park does not like being critical of a coaching staff, preferring to give them the benefit of the doubt. However after seeing Antoine Lafleur (2007 2nd) facing 61 shots in an 8-4 loss to the Drummondville Voltigeurs, it is troubling that the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies coaching staff would subject any goalie to that kind of shot count.

Lafleur faced 28 shots in the first period giving up 5 goals, 12 in the second (2 goals) and then 21 more in the 3rd (one goal). Unless the Huskies backup goalie was injured and unable to play, then there is no excuse to subject a goalie to that kind of barrage especially going up against a team like the Voltigeurs that had won 14 straight coming into this game.

On this one it is next to impossible to fault Lafleur when he has to face 61 shots of which 32 were called "dangerous" (scoring chances). If anything credit Lafleur for taking one for his team as this one was a nightmare.

Tomas Kundratek's (2008 3rd) last game of 2008 with the Medicine Hat Tigers was a 3-0 road loss to the Tri-City Americans. Kundratek played this game at less than 100% but did not play badly but his Tigers were playing their 3rd game in 3 nights and have to be exhausted.

Kundratek is now off to join the Czech Republic Under-20 team as he will join Evgeny Grachev as the only Ranger prospects in the World Under-20 championships.

Michael Del Zotto (2008 1st) had an assist as his Oshawa Generals bounced back from their 10-0 loss to Ottawa to earn a 5-4 shoot out win over the Peterborough Petes. Del Zotto is in a tough situation and is earning our respect for trying to elevate his game under very tough circumstances.

Chris Doyle (2008 5th) was held scoreless and missed on his shootout attempt as his Prince Edward Island Rockets lost to the Saint John Sea Dogs 3-2 in the shoot out. Doyle took 2 minors, was 3-0 on face offs and had 2 good hits.

Now we would like to see Chris put all of these together with some scoring for an all-around game if he wants to be a Ranger.

Tysen Dowzak's Kelowna Rockets put up a game fight but the Calgary Hitmen was able to hold them off for a 4-3 win. Dowzak was a -2 with a cross-checking minor.

(Grachev courtesy of the Brampton Battalion)

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