Friday, January 2, 2009

Burn Baby You Got Burned

Tonight's Star Evgeny Grachev

During the preliminary round of the World Under-20 championships, Evgeny Grachev (2008 3rd) really had not shown the player who had been lighting things up for the Brampton Battalion in the OHL

Entering the quarterfinal match against the Czech Republic, Grachev had been a non-factor with just one point to show for his efforts. Maybe it was our own expectations of Grachev but we thought that Grachev would put up better numbers on Russia's best line.

Guess what we did not realize is that Grachev simply was waiting for being on prime time TV in both Canada and the US to show Ranger fans the player we already knew about. Ranger fans have been raving about the shorthanded goal that Grachev scored in the 3rd period during the Russian 5-1 win over the Czech Republic.

However that is not the play that stood out for us because the real play was actually the pass Grachev made to linemate Nikita Filatov for what proved to be the game winning goal. If you missed the play, Grachev picked up the puck behind the Czech goal and knowing exactly where Filatov was hit him with perfect pass for the one timer to give Russia a 2-0 lead.

Nothing against the goal but most of that play was made by Czech mistakes (including Tomas Kundratek who missed his coverage on Grachev to allow the goal) and Grachev was smart enough to take advantage. The assist though was to us the better play since it required more skill and even better vision.

So now Grachev and Russia have earned the lose to Canada on Saturday. We will save our rant on how this is not a fair way to decide who plays in the gold medal match. Complain about the mismatches but 3 games in 3 days to decide the gold medal is a joke.

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The Rest of the Prospects

Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) had a really rough game against Russia, most Ranger fans until now did not realize that he was the defender who put the puck on Grachev's stick for Grachev's shorthanded goal.

Besides the turnover, Kundratek also took a penalty (ironically right after Grachev had also take one as well) and just one shot on goal. Not enough after playing well during the preliminary round so now Kundratek gets one more game (for 5th place against USA) before returning to Medicine Hat.

Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) has been known mainly as an offensive weapon and until last week had seen very little time on the penalty kill. One shorthanded goal against North Michigan and we think that is going to change the rest of the season.

Stepan scored his first shorthanded goal of his NCAA career but his Wisconsin Badgers lost a game they never should have lost to North Michigan 3-2. This was a case of not taking a team seriously as North Michigan entered this game 3-12-3 and not a match for the Badgers.

Max Campbell (2007 5th) and his Western Michigan Broncos never had a chance against Northeastern as they lost 3-1 in the opening round of the Dodge Holiday Classic. Campbell was scoreless but that was in large part due to Northeastern (12-3-2) showing why they are one of the better teams this season in NCAA hockey.

Campbell was held to 2 shots all game because of the Northeastern defense and there was little he or his teammates could do get untracked.

Tysen Dowzak (2008 UFA) set up what turned out to be the game winning goal as the Kelowna Rocket shut out the Spokane Chiefs 3-0 in WHL action. It was just Dowzak's 4th point in 21 games so just getting an assist is a shock for us.

Michael Del Zotto (2008 1st) and his Oshawa Generals were shut out 5-0 by the Kingston Frontenacs. To call this one embarrassing would be an understatement as the Frontenacs have the worst record in the OHL and the only thing newsworthy about the Frontenacs is their coach; Doug Gilmour.

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And yes USA Hockey we will say "We Told You So" as the loss to Slovakia was expected and very well deserved. Living off that one gold medal in 2004 is why the USA keeps heading backwards in the World Under-20 Championships.

Whether they win the 5th place game or not, there is a major need for USA Hockey to take a long hard look at themselves and how the developmental program is in need of a new direction.

Look at how Canada has rebuilt themselves, how Sweden has remade themselves, and even better how the team that eliminated them Slovakia is rebuilding themselves.

(Grachev courtesy of the Brampton Battalion)




1 comment:

The Manic Ranger said...

I agree. He threaded the needle on that feed to Filatov. He played a pretty impressive game