Saturday, January 10, 2009

What a Difference One Day Makes

THE FIRST STAR- Michael Del Zotto

So it took Michael Del Zotto (2008 1st) exactly 9:19 to show the Ranger world why we been wanting to see him moved to a contending team as he was to the London Knights of the OHL. 9:19 was all it took before Del Zotto set up fellow 2008 first round pick John Carlson for his first point as a Knight and a team 1-0 lead.

Then it took just another 4:50 before Del Zotto scored his 2nd point as a Knight as he earned a power play assist at 14:09 to give London a 2-0 lead that they never gave up in defeating Del Zotto's former team the Oshawa Generals 6-2.

60 minutes is all it took for Del Zotto to earn his first star as a Knight as the defender earned the game's second star for his 2 assists and +1. This is exactly what Del Zotto needed to jump start his development towards the NHL.

Write these numbers down 7-26-33, -12 in 34 games and let us see what Del Zotto finishes over the last 28 OHL regular season games. We say he will better 33 points on this London team with little problem.

Second Star- Antoine Lafleur

We have been down this road before but that is what makes it so frustrating when talking about Antoine Lafleur (2007 2nd). Lafleur played what had to be his best game of the season returning from his undisclosed injury to earn his 10th win of the season in a 3-2 shootout win over the Quebec Remparts.

Lafleur was outstanding stopping 28 out of 30 including 9 dangerous scoring chances. Even better was his performance in the shootout as Lafleur stopped 4 of the 5 shootout chances.

Like Del Zotto, Lafleur earned the games second star for his efforts.

Our hope is that knowing that the starting job for the Huskies is his to lose will finally get Lafleur on the roll we know he is capable of going on. Lafleur is very talented and if he ever shakes his inconsistency will blow past every goalie in the Ranger system except for Henrik Lundqvist.


The Rest of the Prospects

Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) did not score in Wisconsin's 3-2 win over the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves but the freshman forward is now the Badgers second line center. The Badgers are now using Stepan on both special teams and remember this is just a freshman playing for one of college hockey's traditional powers.

Max Campbell (2007 5th) also did not score but like Stepan has moved back into the 2nd line center position for his Western Michigan Broncos as the Broncos won just their 4th game of the season over the Ferris State Bulldogs 2-1.

Danny Hobbs (2007 7th) was scoreless as his UMass Minutemen skated to a 2-2 tie with New Hampshire. Hobbs was used at the 4th line left wing for this game.

Tysen Dowzak (2008 UFA) did not score and took a -2 that was not his fault but his Kelowna Rockets had to go to the shoot out to defeat the Portland Winterhawks 5-4. Dowzak might want to listen to what his Kelowna GM said about improving the Rockets (thanks to Regan Bartel for the info)

Greg Beller (2005 6th) and his Manitoba Bisons were the only prospect team to lose on Friday evening as they dropped a 5-1 decision to the Saskatchewan Huskies in Canada West action. Beller was a -1 with 2 shots as he made his Canada West debut.

Carl Hagelin (2007 6th) and his Michigan Wolverines saw their game against Miami of Ohio postponed until Sunday as the recent bad weather caused damage to their home arena.


Before the OHL trade deadline came and went, Stan Butler (Brampton Battalion) made a deal that just might lead to a Evgeny Grachev/Michael Del Zotto OHL final. Butler picked up goalie Thomas McCollum who is currently the 2nd best goalie in the OHL.

McCollum was Team USA's goalie during the World Under-20 Championships and was the Red Wings first round pick in the 2008 Entry Draft.

Things are about to get interesting in the ranks of Ranger prospects

(Del Zotto courtesy of the Rangers, Lafleur courtesy of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies/QMJHL)

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