Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Goalie Shall Save Them

First Star: Antoine Lafleur

When Antoine Lafleur (2007 2nd) shows up ready to play like he did on Saturday evening then he can make picking the stars of the night really easy. Lafleur stopped 25 out of 26 shots faced as he earned his 11th win of the season leading his Rouyn-Noranda Huskies to a 3-1 win over the Montreal Junior in QMJHL action.

It was typical Lafleur as he gave up an early first period goal and then slammed the door shut on Montreal the rest of the way. For the win, Lafleur was tested early and often in the first period but as the game wore on, made it tough on Montreal to get serious scoring chances.

Lafleur was credited with 9 dangerous saves as he improved to 11-7 with a 3.35 goals against and a .873 save percentage. The question now is who will get the start on Tuesday for the Huskies; Lafleur or teammate Mickael Audette?

Second Star Max Campbell

We can say it now "Soup's On" as while all the attention has been focused upon the bigger named prospects, quietly Max Campbell (2007 5th) is starting to show that he wants to be considered as a legit Ranger prospect.

He just might have a case here as Campbell scored his 10th goal of the season (and 2nd in 2 nights) as his Western Michigan Broncos earned their first weekend sweep of the season with a 5-1 win over University of Alabama-Huntsville. It was a power play goal for Campbell who is the leading goal scorer for the Broncos.

Should we also point out that Campbell earned himself back to back stars from us this weekend? We admit a bias when it comes to Campbell because we always like those who quietly work their butts off as he does and never gets enough credit.

That said, Campbell has worked his way up to the first line center for a rebuilding Western Michigan team. He is just a sophomore who we believe down the road will transition to wing where his natural goal scoring skills can best be harnessed.

This is the kind of Soup that Rangers fans could really develop a taste for.

The Rest of the Prospects

Carl Hagelin (2007 6th) found himself back at center (2nd line) on Saturday for his Michigan Wolverines as they rebounded from Friday's embarrassing loss to Bowling Green by returning the favor and posting a 1-0 shut out.

Hagelin was scoreless but had 5 shots on goal for the Wolverines as well as keying their penalty kill. We have admit that while it is nice that Hagelin can play 2 positions; it is hard for a player to find his role in the lineup when he gets bounced around like Hagelin has been.

It is clear that Hagelin's best production has come when used as a left wing not as a center. Can Michigan please make up their mind where they want to use him and leave him there for the rest of the season?

Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) actually had a quiet game as his Wisconsin Badgers lost to Colorado College 4-3 to split their weekend series. That he had a quiet game is actually news since Stepan has had an impact in practically every game for the Badgers since the Badgers turned their season around.

Greg Beller (2005 6th) had an assist for the second straight game as his Manitoba Bison shut out the Regina Cougars 6-2 in Canada West action. Beller's Bisons won their 3rd league game which is a season high for the Bison. Beller is now 0-2-2 in 4 Canada West games.

Somehow we missed how or why but we are wondering if Tysen Dowzak (2008 UFA) was (a) healthy scratch, (b) suspended for one game by the WHL, (c) kidnapped by space aliens or (d) the Kelowna Rocket coach simply likes to play shorthanded.

If we sound frustrated it is because there are times when communications with teams can turn into some kind of CIA operation where if you want to ask a silly question like "Why did he not play" does not get answered or you are told "off the record" and can not use that response.

In any event by now you realize that Dowzak was not in the Rocket lineup against the Prince George Cougars, that the Rocket only played with 5 defensemen and that we have zero idea why.

The Rocket misfired when their star defenseman Tyler Myers put the puck over the boards not once but twice during the last 4 minutes of the 3rd period and it cost the Rocket this game. The Rockets have the deepest group of forwards in the WHL but they as of late are more like the gang that can not shoot straight or the New York Rangers.

Final in the shootout; Prince George 3, Kelowna 2 and rightfully so.

UPDATED: According to Gregg Drinnan of Taking Note, Dowzak was a healthy scratch which is not a good sign for Dowzak's future. The question we would like to see is if the Rockets scratch Myers in their next game for his boneheaded plays?

Danny Hobbs (2007 7th) we are going to guess was a healthy scratch as his UMass Minutemen defeated UMass Lowell 4-3. Hobbs has not produced this season which we have to admit is a surprise since we thought he would play better than he has.

Hobbs when he gets back into the lineup needs to remember why the Rangers drafted him (because he plays better against higher quality opposition) and stop deferring to others if he wants to have a shot at the next level.


Mitch Gaulton (2008 6th) never got examined by the Ranger doctors in time for him to receive clearance to make his season debut. The Rangers need to stop this nonsense and bring Gaulton to NYC to decide whether or not to let him play.

Gaulton has been cleared to play by the Erie Otter doctors and to be honest the Otters need Gaulton in their lineup. They have been polite and not spoken out about the way the Rangers are handling this so we will.

Do something Rangers as Gaulton has the right to know whether he can play hockey this season or not. The Otters could have simply gone ahead and let him play but they showed that they put Gaulton's health ahead of their own interests.

Chris Doyle (2008 5th) remains out of the Prince Edward Island Rocket lineup with no return in sight. Despite the injury, Doyle remains the leading scorer among Ranger prospects at 21-30-51.

(Lafleur courtesy of Rouyn-Noranda, Campbell courtesy of WMU)

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