Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Psst Chris Doyle Is Back

Tonight's Star Chris Doyle

So just when we were ready to call Chris Doyle a "one half wonder" does his scoring touch reappear as it did on Tuesday evening as Doyle's 3 points helped his Prince Edward Island Rocket to a 7-5 come from behind win over the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

Doyle's 26th goal of the season at 7:43 of the third period broke a 5-5 tie and turned out to be the game winning goal as the Rocket came back from being down 4-2 to earn the win.

Doyle had assists on the Rocket's 1st goal as well as their 7th goal as the New York Ranger's 2008 5th round pick notched his 7th 3 point or more game of the season. After scoring just 5 points in 8 games during the month of February, Doyle has already equaled that output in just 2 games.

With the 3 points, Doyle has moved back to within 1 point of Evgeny Grachev as Doyle is at 26-40-66. Doyle on the season leads the prospects in several areas, 13 power play goals, 75 PIMs but also a -18.

We do not expect Doyle to be offered a Ranger's contract this off-season as the combination of his back injury, scoring slowdown as well having another year of junior eligibility will send him back to the QMJHL next season.


Another player who has some serious question marks about his future is 2007 second round pick Antoine Lafleur who got a chance to start for the first time since February 20th. Sadly for Lafleur the break did not help him end a personal losing streak which now stands at 4 games.

Lafleur only gave up 2 goals but his Rouyn-Noranda Huskies could only score on goal as the Huskies dropped a 3-1 decision to the Gatineau Olympiques. Lafleur played much better then he has been showing but instead of defensive support from his team there was no offense.

Lafleur one has to wonder if the Rangers are going to offer him a contract before their rights to him expire. When Lafleur has been around Benoit Allaire then his play has been solid, away from the Ranger's goalie coach the play has been marred by inconsistency.

Lafleur drives us nuts because we see the 6'5 size that covers a ton of the ice, we see a player who when he has his game can be a very solid goalie. The problem is that we have not seen any kind of long term consistency out of him that a winning goalie has to have.

If it was up to us then right now Lafleur needs a major showing in the QMJHL playoffs to earn a professional contract. A 12-14 record with a 3.59 GAA but a very alarming 0.864 save percentage are not the kinds of numbers that say future Ranger.


Call this the hat trick on frustrating New York Ranger prospects as Tomas Kundratek in his own way is the most mind boggling for us this season.

Like the other two, Tomas Kundratek has talent, he has a lot of skill on offense and he has the desire to be a physical defender. The problem is that we wonder if Kundratek knows what kind of player he wants to be.

Kundratek and his Medicine Hat Tigers had little problem with the Moose Jaw Warriors winning 5-1. Kundratek was scoreless for the 5th straight game but at least found a way to stay out of the penalty box or not get into a fight.

Off all the Ranger prospects, Tomas Kundratek and Derek Stepan are the 2 most likely to have the most success in the John Tortorella system. However Kundratek as of late has not done much at either end of the ice.

With Kundratek it has been either a good game on offense or a good game on defense, that is not going to help him make it to the NHL. Kundratek gets some slack because this is his first year in North America but at this point of the season there is less and less slack for one of the 2008 3rd round picks.

Kundratek is the needed 2 way defender who we believe Tortorella wants for his up tempo system. Kundratek has the passing skills to help spring the forwards on their way up the ice while playing the smart defense needed to cover up in case of odd man rushes.

What we are not seeing is an all around game that we know Kundratek is very capable of putting out. We have seen the defense which is a physical in your face style, we have seen the offense which is a smart passing game but not both in the same game.

Kundratek unlike the other two already has a professional contract signed but one has to wonder if he is going to be ready to make the jump to the AHL. Kundratek needs to improve his upper body and do some maturing on the ice.

(Pictures: Doyle/PEI, Lafleur/Rouyn-Noranda, Kundratek/Tim Machan(Medicine Hat))


steve said...

So Jess, when you say "Of all the Ranger prospects, Tomas Kundratek and Derek Stepan are the 2 most likely to have the most success in the John Tortorella system." Does mean that Evgeny Grachev does not? and if so why? is he not fast enough?

Jess Rubenstein said...


No what I mean is that those 2 are more geared to play in the Tortorella system as they are players who are the best skaters.

Grachev will make it but he will need work on his skating (which these days is not hard)