Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Prospects To the Rescue

When we see nights like the New York Rangers had on Wednesday night against the Flyers; it always disappoints us because those are the nights when we think the Ranger players have gotten what they went though to make to the Rangers.

No other franchise takes better care of their players than the Rangers do; everything is first rate, everything is first class and no expense is spared to basically for the lack of another word spoil them.

See we know the path they had to take as we live it every day; we know that at the prospect level there is no fancy spread for a post game meal. On the road you might get a "Subway" and a bottle of juice as you get ready to leave.

There is no fancy charter airplane with fancy meals; in the WHL you can sometimes be stuck on a bus for 15 hours traveling from say Portland Oregon to Calgary Alberta.

For the prospects this is what they have to undergo if they want to realize that dream of one day playing in the NHL whether it is the Rangers or anyone else. Last night there was no hunger for the Rangers just perhaps the results of being spoiled rotten.

Thankfully we have the prospects to wash the taste of what we wish we had not watched from the Rangers.

First Star Scott Stajcer

It is ironic on a night when Henrik Lundqvist got pulled and Chad Johnson tossed under the bus by his teammates that another goalie wound up with the best night of the Ranger prospects. Scott Stajcer (2009 5th) stopped 30 out of 31 shots to lead his Owen Sound Attack to a 3-1 win over the Niagara Ice Dogs.

Stajcer was the game's "first star" and with good reason because he was the main reason why the Attack got this win. Stajcer stood tall in net as his teammates played almost the same kind of defense as the Rangers did for their goalies.

Stajcer improved his record to 13-14-2-1 as he lowered his goals against to 3.47 and raised his save percentage to 0.906. It was Stajcer's second straight win after struggling prior to the holiday break.

If Stajcer gets on a roll then the Attack are going to make the OHL playoffs despite having a weak defense.

Second Star Sam Klassen

Les Lazaruk who is the voice of the Saskatoon Blade gives out what he calls the "Unsung Hero of the Night" award to the player who's efforts helped lead to the victory but may not show up in the scoresheet. We were not at all surprised that Sam Klassen (UFA 2009) was named that "Unsung Hero" as the Saskatoon Blades held off the Seattle Thunderbirds 4-3.

See we are getting used to hearing that Klassen "blocked shots, took the heavy hit that resulted in a player ejection, and was huge in the final minute of the third to preserve the lead" (thanks Dan Ukrainetz of the Blades) this year as that is what Klassen does all the time.

In addition to doing it on the defensive end; Klassen also had 2 assists as the Blades won for the first time in the United States since October of 2005 (a 7 game span over the 4 years). Klassen has been the Ranger's best defensive prospect this year and his +24 is not built on his offensive game but his defense.

Third Star Ethan Werek

We got a friendly reminder from Ethan Werek (2009 2nd) that any discussion about the future of the New York Ranger prospects should also include his name. Werek in his own return from the holiday break had 2 assists as his Kingston Frontenacs defeated the Oshawa Generals 5-3.

Werek reminded us with his play that while the USA trio has been playing well in the World Under-20's that he has been the Ranger's best prospect this season. At 17-22-39, Werek is on a pace to easily top his 32-32-64 that led the Rangers to use their 2009 second round pick on him in the first place.

While the assists in this game were secondary in nature; what was not secondary was Werek taking charge of the game during the second period as he has done all season long for the Frontenacs.

The Rest of the Ranger Prospects

Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) was scoreless as his Medicine Hat Tigers lost to the Lethbridge Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime. Our thanks to Gregg Drinnan of Taking Note for getting us the results of this one as the WHL servers went down this evening. (If you really want to learn about the WHL then read Drinnan's Blog).

Carl Hagelin (2007 6th) had 2 assists as his Michigan Wolverines took 3rd place in the Great Lakes Invitational with a 5-3 win over Michigan Tech. Hagelin is now 10-10-20 on the season for the 10-10-0 Wolverines.

This might be the year that Michigan fails to make the NCAAs to end a streak of 19 straight NCAA appearances. Unless either Michigan gets red hot and steals the CCHA automatic bid by winning the CCHA tournament then we do not see Michigan as deserving of an "at-large" bid.

Danny Hobbs (2007 7th) was scoreless but much more active with 6 shots on goal as his 15th ranked UMass Minutemen lost in the finals of the UConn Hockey Classic 4-3 to Bentley. Bentley plays in the Atlantic Hockey league is not exactly a powerhouse but they have a rep for upsetting teams from UMass's Hockey East conference.

Chris Doyle (2008 5th) made his debut with the Victoriaville Tigres on Wednesday night but it was a quiet one as the Tigres lost to the Drummondville Voltigeurs 5-4. Doyle had 2 good scoring chances and was credited with 2 solid hits appears to be happy with the trade as a fresh start for him.

(Stajcer and Werek courtesy of OHL Images, Klassen courtesy of the Saskatoon Blades)

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