Saturday, March 21, 2009

Down With the DLZ

Tonight's Star Michael Del Zotto

When we first talked with Michael Del Zotto earlier this year, we asked about his personal goals for this season and Del Zotto said he wanted to win a championship. Del Zotto went on to say that "the points would take care of themselves."

3 assists in Friday's game, 2 more in Saturday's 8-1 win over Mitch Gaulton's Erie Otters and Del Zotto's London Knights are holding a 2-0 series lead. It is a great start for Del Zotto who gets lost at times because of his teammate John Tavares and the play of fellow prospect Evgeny Grachev.

In Saturday's game, Del Zotto got both his points on the power play. The first was a secondary on Nazem Kadri's first goal of the game at 10:24 to give the Knights a 1-0 lead.

Del Zotto then set up John Tavares goal just 1:31 into the 3rd period giving the Knights a 4-1 lead and breaking the game wide open. The Knights went on to score 4 more goals in the 3rd period to send this series back to Erie with the Otters now looking to try to regroup to try to make this a series.

If Del Zotto continues to play like this then the Otters will be over and out in 4 quick games.


The Rest of the Ranger Prospects

Mitch Gaulton
on the other hand for the Erie Otters is like his team, very over matched by the London Knights who have limited the Otters to very few scoring chances and staying out of the penalty box. Gaulton wound up with 4 PIMs and little else to show for Game 2.

Tysen Dowzak may not score goals but his defense is the kind of contribution why the Kelowna Rockets after a 5-1 win over the Kamloops Blazers are up 2 games to o in their series. The Rockets shut the Blazers down allowing just one shorthanded goal against despite still not bringing their best efforts.

Dowzak wound up with a +3 for his evening along with 2 PIMs and credited with 3 hits on the evening. The Rangers have plenty of firepower on the defensive end but they need someone like Dowzak to play a role once handled by a Jeff Beukeboom.

Tomas Kundratek scored his first WHL playoff point as his Medicine Hat Tigers shook off whatever has been bothering them and defeated the Swift Current Broncos 6-2 to even their playoff series at 1-1. Kundratek set up Wacey Hamilton's goal at 9:41 of the 3rd period to give Medicine Hat a commanding 5-2 lead in the game.

If Kundratek can put up numbers on the power play then the Tigers do have a chance to win this series. The key to winning game 2 for Medicine Hat was that they went 3 for 6 on the power play after going just 1 for 8 in game 1.

The Tigers are a smaller team than Swift Current up front so getting offense out of Kundratek could be a difference maker.

One of our important must reads in the college hockey area is the folks at College Hockey News as they have been one of the most accurate sources of college information out there. Having said that we are going to direct you to this article that explains why Carl Hagelin and his Michigan Wolverines are headed to Bridgeport Connecticut (where if you get a chance GO).

Carl Hagelin and his Michigan Wolverines are heading east in large part because in the CCHA Championship Final, they lost to Notre Dame 5-2 instead of heading to local Grand Rapids. The Fighting Irish spotted the Wolverines a 2-0 lead and then blew them out of the water.

If Michigan has an Achilles heel then it has to be Notre Dame as in the bigger games, the Fighting Irish have their number going back to last season's Frozen Four. Hagelin did not play badly as Notre Dame did all of their damage against against the Wolverines other lines.

If you took the time to read that CHN article then you will understand why Derek Stepan and his Wisconsin Badgers are going to hate this number .002. That is the difference as to why Stepan and his Badgers are not heading to the NCAAs but instead finished for the season.

Stepan and the Badgers finished their season by winning the WCHA consolation game 4-1 over North Dakota. We did get to see a preview of what Wisconsin is expecting out of soon to be sophomore Derek Stepan as he was the starting center for Wisconsin.

For Stepan we hope that he thinks long and hard about how the difference between playing in the NCAAs and being finished was just one win over the Denver Pioneers that Wisconsin never got this season. 0 for 5 against Denver when just one win would have been the difference in quality wins.

Stepan finished his freshman season 9-24-33 which was good for 2nd on Wisconsin but it is just the beginning for Stepan we believe.

In the QMJHL, sorry but the difference between the "haves" and the "have nots" is best shown in how badly the Moncton Wildcats defeated Chris Doyle and the Prince Edward Island Rockets 5-0 for a 2-0 series lead. This game should have been much worse for the Rocket had Moncton done better than 1 for 13 on the power play.

Doyle was held to just 3 shots and for the most part a non-factor due to Moncton simply being that much better of a team. The series shifts to Prince Edward Island and for us if the Rocket can win even one game in this series.

As for Antoine Lafleur, we now know why he is not dressing for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in their playoff series against the Montreal Junior. Lafleur is injured and the only thing that we can confirm is that he will be unable to play for this opening round series with a slim chance of returning for the second round.

Of course this is a double edged sword as if the Huskies were to advance then no team would bench the goalie who got them there. The injury is going to force the Rangers to make a tough decision as to whether or not to sign Lafleur.

(Del Zotto courtesy of the Rangers)


paul said...

Keep up the good work Jess. Love reading your blog every morning.

paul said...

Hey Jess...

what is the status of the injury Justin Soryal sustained? Is he done for the year?

Jess Rubenstein said...


To be honest with 12 different prospects in the CHL and NCAAs this year I really have not had a chance to watch much of Hartford so I just don't know.

I would head over to Howlings as Mitch Beck handles that for the Blueshirt Bulletin.

Thanks for the kind words as it makes a long long drive home worth it.