Tuesday, December 29, 2009

So Far So Good

If you have any complaints about today's performance of the 3 Ranger draft picks playing for Team USA then it would have to be that Ryan Bourque did not score a goal himself.

In what has to be called the best single game performance by a group of Ranger prospects in a very long time; Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) 2 goals and 2 assists, Chris Kreider (2009 1st) 3 goals and Ryan Bourque (2009 3rd) 1 assist led the USA to a 12-1 win over Latvia.

Seriously in all honesty while all these numbers put up look great in terms of how well the Ranger prospects looked so far; the truth has to be none of this really matters until we see where this team finished the World Under-20 Championships.

Right now the hype is being perhaps overdone for the now "big game" against Canada on New Year's Eve but the only thing that is going to be decided at that time is which team gets the bye into the medal round.

By now you have seen all the various reports about the performance of the trio and yes they looked great. However we need to put all of this aside now and watch how they play on Thursday night against Canada.

The closest any of these players have gotten to playing in this kind of game has been Derek Stepan playing in the WCHA "Final Five" and in honesty not even that is going to be close to what these 3 are going to face. It is a good test for the trio and how they handle the pressure in this situation is going to be more important than whatever numbers they may or may not put up.

Beat Canada on Thursday and the USA forces Canada to have to go though Sweden to get back to the gold medal game. If we understand how the scheduling works then the loser of the Thursday game has to first play the Czech Republic then Sweden to earn the right to the gold medal game.

No offense to either the US or Canada but right now Sweden is our pick to win the gold medal as they have played better hockey then either team. Whoever faces Sweden in our eyes is not going to make it to the gold medal game.

Still it is nice to see Derek Stepan's name up at the top of the scoring leaders tied with 2 Canadians at 3-5-8. Both he and Chris Kreider have played their way into consideration for the All-Tournament team.

Roman Horak who due to the combination of the play of the USA trio and his Czech Republic's weak performance has become the forgotten prospect. Horak moved up to the Czech Republic's 2nd line had just 2 shots on goal but no points as the Czechs defeated Austria 7-1 for their first win of the games.

The Rest of the Ranger Prospects

The biggest news on Tuesday was off the ice as Chris Doyle (2008 5th) was traded from Prince Edward Island to the Victoriaville Tigres as part of a multi-player deal. Doyle in our eyes gets a badly needed fresh start on one of the better teams in the QMJHL as he was struggling on and off the ice this season.

While his numbers were not all that bad at 18-18-36; they still should be much better than they are if Doyle wants to entertain serious hope of any kind of professional contract offer from the Rangers.

Doyle will make his debut with the Tigres on Wednesday.

Carl Hagelin (2008 6th) tried to carry his Michigan Wolverines on his back with a goal and an assist but it was not enough as the Wolverines were upset in the first round of the Great Lakes Invitational 4-3 by RPI. This one is one that the Wolverines should be ashamed of losing as they gave up 4 goals on just 13 total shots by RPI.

There is no excuse to outshoot a team 46-13 and lose especially in a game held in your own backyard. None of this can be blamed on Hagelin who took 9 shots of his own in scoring his 10th goal of the season and 18th point.

Michigan faces Michigan Tech in the consolation game on Wednesday night.

Danny Hobbs (2007 7th) was scoreless but his UMass Minutemen defeated Union 4-3 in their opening round contest of the UConn Hockey Classic. Hobbs was back to the 4th line and did not take any shots in this game.

UMass will face Bentley in the finals on Wednesday evening.

In the OHL, Mitch Gaulton (2008 6th) was scoreless but a +2 as his Erie Otters defeated the Saginaw Spirit 4-1. Gaulton may not have scored but at least was much more active in this game than he was last night.

Daniel Maggio (2009 6th) was also scoreless as his Sudbury Wolves got their second half of their season off to a good start with a 4-2 win over the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. This match up is always interesting to watch because Jeff Beukeboom is an assistant coach with the Wolves while his son Brock plays for the Greyhounds.

(Chris Kreider courtesy of Katherine Ep)

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