Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Let's Get Ready To Rumble

For the first time since we started covering New York Ranger prospects that there will be 3 Ranger prospects in the conference finals of their respective leagues. 2 of those prospects are key pieces to whether or not their teams will be heading to their league finals.

The hardest part is going to be trying to figure out which series for us to focus on as all three of these series have the potential to be huge classics because you have 3 excellent storylines here.

We start with Michael Del Zotto of the London Knights in part because despite Evgeny Grachev's numbers; Del Zotto has in fact been the better player with the bigger plays. For the London Knights to advance the OHL finals then Del Zotto must continue the play that he has shown in the first 2 rounds.

Del Zotto has been the second leading scorer among OHL defensemen with 2-12-14 mark in 9 games. Of those points, Del Zotto has had 6 have been key points that either were tying or game winners.

Now Del Zotto and his teammates are facing the Windsor Spitfires in the OHL Western Conference Finals. The Spitfires who have been the top ranked team in the CHL for most of the season and finished with the best record in the OHL. For London to win then Del Zotto has to continue the numbers that he has already put so far in the playoffs.

Del Zotto needs to be on the attack as he has been, with his skating skill then he will open space for teammates John Tavares and Nazem Kadri and if he does then the Knights have a good chance to beat the Spitfires. Del Zotto is going to be the key for the Knights because everyone else is going to be worried about stopping Tavares and Kadri; an attacking Del Zotto could lead to an OHL Final trip where the Knights could be facing his fellow Ranger prospect Evgeny Grachev.

This one is going to be a close even series as if the star players cancel each other out then if Del Zotto does in fact play like he has then London heads to the OHL Final in 6 games.

Evgeny Grachev and his Brampton Battlion as they take on the Belleville Bulls in the OHL Eastern Conference Finals. Grachev has been a difference maker for the the Battalion as when he scores then the Battalion have gone 6-1 and now like Del Zotto Grachev needs to do the same thing in his conference final.

Grachev has actually done pretty well against Belleville as he went 4-2-6 in five games. However Belleville is going to be a tough match up as the 2 teams split the season series 2-2.

This difference we see in this series is that Grachev is going up against two of the better OHL defenders in PK Suppan and Shawn Lalonde. Grachev is going to need to take his game to the next level and if he does then Brampton could be heading to their very first OHL final.

Grachev we are seeing signs of understanding his importance to the Battalion and if he plays like the "NHL level" player that he has been called then it will be Brampton in 7 games. If he does not then the Belleville playoff experience will take them out in 5.

One last Ranger related not about this series as the grandson of Ranger legend Andy Bathgate also named Andy Bathgate plays for the Belleville Bulls.

Tysen Dowzak is not going to be as key to how well his Kelowna Rockets do in their WHL Western Conference final series against the Vancouver Giants but he could have an impact.

The 6'5 defender will need to be a physical force and punish the Giant forwards while also leading the penalty kill for the Rockets. If Dowzak does then the Rockets could pull off what would be viewed as an upset of the Giants.

The Giants are coming off a marathon of a great series as they were forced to 7 games including 3 overtime games against the defending Memorial Cup Champions the Spokane Chiefs. This series had a 4 overtime game, a double overtime as well as Game 7 which went into overtime.

The Rockets will be a more rested healthier team and the way the series schedule is set up the bigger Rockets will have 2 sets of back to back games against the Giants. This Rocket team has come a long way since the middle of January as after losing the first 5 games of their season series to the Giants, the Rockets won the last 3 but in the playoffs it means nothing.

The Rockets win this series if they continue the "Crash and Bang" style that has earned them 2 series wins. If the Rockets shut down the Giant power play as they did to Tri-City then they will win this series.

Dowzak needs to be the physical force on the blueline, if he plays like he did against Tri-City then all will be well. However if Dowzak becomes a spectator then he will end his WHL career on a sour note.

We think Kelowna has one chance which is to punish and keep using the body on the Giants, they will wear them down and do what Spokane could not do which is win the series. Spokane set the Giants up by taking the Giants to the limit especially in the last 3 games and we do not think the Giants will be able to fully recover.

Rockets head to a WHL final against Brandon (our pick sorry Brad Curle) in 7 games.


In the next week we will be moving over to our new home at www.theprospectpark.org. We did not want to move but Blogger is unwilling to provide support for their product.

Thanks to Dubi Silverstein who as busy as he is running the Blueshirt Bulletin who built up a site for us at Typepad. It is a work in progress but in the long run once we work the bugs out (read that as learning how to use the controls) then we will transfer this place to there.

For now we will continue to post here as well as at the new place.

(Del Zotto courtesy of Stu Switzer, Grachev courtesy of Aaron Bell, Dowzak courtesy of Tim Swanky)

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