Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Tale of Two Games

It was a night of Game 1s as the Rangers as well as two of their top prospects got their playoff series underway with mixed results. If there is one message that the outcome of both these games as along with the Rangers is that in order to win then you have to play full steam from opening whistle until the very end or else you can lose.

Evgeny Grachev and his Brampton Battalion came out wanting to steal away home ice advantage from the Belleville Bulls and they came out taking the game right to the Bulls winning 4-2 to take a 1-0 series lead and home ice advantage away from the Bulls.

Grachev got a secondary assist on the Battalion's first goal which tied the game at 1-1 at 8:52 of the first period. It was Grachev's 9th assist and 16th point of the playoffs and the Battalion improved to 7-1 when Grachev scores during this year's playoff run.

The key to this win was that Brampton came out on the attack and did not let up; they took control of the game from the very beginning and did not take the foot off the gas pedal until the outcome was clearly decided. The Bulls were simply unable to get any kind of flow to their offensive game because Brampton kept coming.

From 18 shots in the first period to 3 unanswered goals in the 2nd period , the Battalion came in with an attacking game plan and stuck to it. It is why they now hold a 1-0 series lead heading back to Brampton on Friday evening.

On the other hand there is Michael Del Zotto and his London Knights who gave away their game 1 as the Knights blew a 3-1 lead and lost 4-3 in overtime to the Windsor Spitfires. The Knights simply did not put away when they had the chances to and instead of stealing away home ice are left wondering "what if?"

Del Zotto was a mix in this game as he had good plays as well as bad ones but he was not to blame for the loss as this was a team loss. Del Zotto had an assist on London's 2nd goal of the game which was a power play goal in the 2nd period for a then 2-1 London lead.

For Del Zotto it was his 13th assist as well as his 15th point. It was what one expects from Del Zotto getting the offense going and why he is the Ranger's power play quarterback of the future.

However London gave Windsor life after for most of the game, Windsor had been struggling trying to get their game going. The Knights had control of the game and it looked as if they were going to steal home ice.

With London up 3-1 in the 3rd period , the game fell apart for Knights as the best way to put it was that the Knights let up and the Spitfires took advantage of it. It started when Del Zotto was called for tripping at 8:00 but then teammate Phil McRae was called for hooking 43 seconds later to give Windsor a 2 man advantage.

Windsor scored at 9:11 to cut the London lead to 3-2 then 59 second later while still on the power play, Windsor scored again to tie the game. Once Windsor got a second life they took full advantage of it.

Windsor pressed the attack and forced overtime where they forced one last mistake by the Knights as John Carlson was called for holding due to a defensive breakdown at 3:16 of overtime and Windsor took advantage of at 4:30 of overtime to score on the power play to grab a win that London handed to them.

Both Brampton and London will play their game 2's on Friday at home, one has a very good idea as to how to win their series, the other hopefully will realize why they lost and learn from it.

(Grachev picture courtesy of Brampton)

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