Sunday, April 19, 2009

Lessons They Need to Learn

There are days when we get to remember why they call them prospects and Sunday was one of those days. 3 Ranger prospects were in action and all wound up losing games that in all honesty they should not have lost.

We start with Michael Del Zotto who decided that playing the role of physical defender was the best use of his talents. Forget Michael that you are 2-16-18 in the playoffs, you wanted to be a big hitter today and sorry that is not what you should be doing.

Hope you got that out of your system because you also took 4 minors and did not score. Your London Knights once again blew a 2 goal lead to drop Game 3 of their series with the Windsor Spitfires 5-4 in overtime and trail 2 games to 1.

4 times Del Zotto went to the penalty box and his London Knights did not have his services for almost half a period. Bet Windsor coach Bob Boughner did not mind seeing you in the penalty box at all; not a guy who had an 8 game scoring streak.

No Michael it does not matter if you took someone with you twice because you still were not helping your team when you are sitting in the penalty box. It is nice that Del Zotto wants to silence his critics but this is not how to do it.

The positive spin on this is that Del Zotto has shown to bounce back with big games after bad ones; his Knights will need that on Monday night as they try to tie this series. This has been a strange enough series with each game being decided in overtime after the losing team blew a 2 goal lead in regulation.

For Evgeny Grachev his lesson is about playing a full 60 minutes as his Brampton Battalion got spanked 6-2 by the Belleville Bulls in game 3 of their series. For about 25 minutes this was a game but 3 goals in 2:42 turned the game into a rout and this back into a series.

The Battalion stopped doing the things that led them to a 2-0 series lead which was hard work and physical play. When they did that then credit the Bulls for taking full advantage of it as they had not been looking good in this series until the second period.

Grachev netted an assist in the first period to extend his own scoring streak to 6 games but both Grachev and his teammates forgot to keep playing once they got a 2-1 first period lead. Hopefully this is a lesson that the Battalion quickly learn as if they let Belleville tie this series they will not win it.

For Tysen Dowzak and his Kelowna Rockets they can learn that even in losing they can gain something to build upon. Dowzak and the Rockets lost with just 35 seconds remaining in the first overtime to the Vancouver Giants 4-3 and head back to Kelowna tied at 1-1.

Dowzak and his teammates rallied in the 3rd period from 2 goals down to force overtime which is the first lesson they can learn. During the season it was the Giants who owned the WHL's Western Conference in the 3rd period but not in this case.

That the Rockets have been able to go toe to toe with one of the CHL's better teams is another lesson that the Rockets can build upon as they head back to Kelowna now with home ice advantage. If the Rockets hold home ice then they will be heading to the WHL finals and a chance at the Memorial Cup.

The Rockets had won 4 straight games over the Giants including the regular season so this is another bit of knowledge for the Rockets to use for their advantage. The Rockets have proven they can beat Vancouver IF they work hard but they also need to stay out of the penalty box to do so.

As for Dowzak, we use the opposite lesson that we did for Del Zotto as he took a roughing penalty but he took Vancouver's Evander Kane with him (Kane is expected to be a Top 5 pick in the next draft). That is a very favorable exchange for the Rockets and one they can accept all series long.

Not sure, do not care and just hope that Dowzak continues to play with the determination and fire that he has shown so far in these first 2 games. If Dowzak keeps playing like this then Kelowna can free up the other members of the "T" club (Tyler Myers and Tyson Barrie) for offensive purposes and that too is a big advantage.

In any case we are hoping that this is the last day of school for the prospects and that they just go out and play like they can and have been. We do not want to see them in Hartford just yet.

(Del Zotto/Getty Images, Grachev/OHL(Brampton), Dowzak/WHL(Kelowna)

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