Even though the Olympics will be shutting down the NHL, the rest of the Ranger prospects will still keep playing as jockeying for playoff positioning is becoming the goal at this point of the season.
It is also ironic that on a day when the Rangers gave away a 2011 draft pick for Jody Shelley that our stars tonight just so happened to be 5th and 6th round picks. If the Rangers had made a move for a badly needed defenseman instead of a goon who will hardly play then we would have nothing to say.
Our news though does start out with a bit of bad news as 2009 2nd round pick Ethan Werek of the Kingston Frontenacs is expected to be out for about 2 weeks with a twisted right knee. Werek has been leading all Ranger prospects in both goals (24) and points (53) but that lead appears to be in jeopardy.
First Star Chris Doyle
It took forever but it appears we are finally going to get our chance to finally interview Chris Doyle (2008 5th) next week but Doyle is making sure he is looking good for that interview. Doyle had 2 secondary assists as his Victoriaville Tigres defeated the Lewiston MAINEaics 5-1.
For Doyle the assists not only extended his point scoring streak to 4 games (1-6-7) but pulled Doyle to just one point of Ethan Werek for the prospect scoring lead. Doyle after getting assists on Victoriaville's first and fifth goals is now 19-33-52 on the season.
But it was more than just the assists that stood out as Doyle was a +3 which was his 3rd straight game on the plus side. Doyle's line for the night was 0-2-2, +3, 3 shots, 2-0 on faceoffs and credit for 1 "good" hit.
Not to mention that Doyle since being traded to the Tigre is 4-15-19 in 18 games so as we had hoped; Doyle has gotten his game back on track while joining a team that is expected to go deep in the QMJHL playoffs.
Second Star Carl Hagelin
There are times when the discussion about player speed comes up and one name gets overlooked. That name is Carl Hagelin (2007 6th) of the Michigan Wolverines who very quietly has become a very strong 2 way player.
In a game televised over CBS College Sports, Hagelin's Wolverines lost 4-3 to Nebraska-Omaha but Hagelin reminded us why we have been fans of his since his freshman year. Hagelin who is Michigan's leading scorer had a assist to extend his current scoring streak to 6 games (1-6-7) in a losing cause but that is not what had us enjoying his efforts tonight.
No matter what the situation, Hagelin was clearly one step faster than anyone on the ice. It was at regular strength, it was on the power play and as well on the penalty kill.
This has been a down season compared to what they are used to which may explain why Hagelin is not getting much attention. Still when you want to talk about the speed of the Ranger prospects then Hagelin's is just as fast as Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan or any other Ranger prospect.
Third Star Roman Horak
Roman Horak (2009 5th) had a goal and an assist as his Chilliwack Bruins upset the Tri-City Americans 6-3 on the Americans home ice. Horak for his play was named the 3rd star as the 8th seeded Bruins sent a message to the top seeded Americans that they will not be pushovers should they meet in the WHL playoffs.
Horak who we have sang the praises of all season was doing what he does best; winning faceoffs and killing penalties. Horak is up to 16-22-38 +14 on a team that was not even expected to contend for a playoff spot this season.
Horak who came over at the start of this season known as an offensive weapon has shown that is wants to be a complete 2 way player. His quick adaptation to the North American style as well as not hitting the "European Wall" has made him a steal for a 5th rounder.
Horak scored Chilliwack's 2nd goal at 8:04 of the 2nd period for a 2-1 Chilliwack lead. Horak then added a secondary assist at 1:16 of the 3rd period on Chilliwack's 3rd goal.
So when people say 5th or 6th rounders do not matter; think again
The Rest of the Ranger Prospects
Our featured matchup was between 2 of the Ranger's better defensive prospects Sam Klassen (2009 UFA) of the Saskatoon Blades and Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) of the Medicine Hat Tigers. Both of these prospects are "stay at home" defenders who like playing the physical game with Klassen being one of the best hitting Ranger prospects in 20 years.
One thing we have to say right up front is that Klassen is a heavy hitter but he is also a very clean hitter. Kundratek loves the physical game himself as he calls Dion Phanuef his role model.
In this game, the Blades earned their 4th straight win 5-3 as they held onto 1st place in the WHL's Eastern Conference. Klassen was scoreless as he typically is while Kundratek had an assist on Medicine Hat's 3rd goal for his 30th point of the season.
In a game showed in the USA on the NHL Network, Ryan McDonagh (2009 Trade) had an assist for his 10th point of the season while teammate Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) was held scoreless (somewhat) as their 3rd ranked Wisconsin Badgers jumped out to a 4-1 lead and held on for a 4-3 win over Minnesota State.
Stepan fired a shot off the head of teammate Blake Geoffrion (by accident) that directly led to Wisconsin's 2nd goal of the game. But there were a couple of things that came out of this game that should be said about our Badger brothers.
First off McDonagh is not putting up the numbers that Ranger fans were hoping for because he is partnering with Jake Gardiner who is one of the best offensive defensemen in college hockey. The other thing is when the Rangers get Derek Stepan in Broadway blue; do not use Stepan on the point as he is better used off the wing.
The 3rd thing (well this is up to us) is that the Rangers find a job either at Hartford or as an assistant for Dean Blaise who was the coach of Team USA. It boggles the mind that Blaise who had Stepan, Kreider and Bourque for less than 3 weeks but has proven himself to be the only one to use Ranger prospects in the best possible way.
Ryan Bourque (2009 3rd) has an interesting streak going as the Quebec Rempart forward was scoreless as his Remparts defeated the Arcadie-Bathurst Titan 6-4. Since January 13th Bourque has had points in 2 games then gone scoreless and then repeated the cycle 3 times.
Overall Bourque has gone 4-8-12 but we can not recall a player having that kind of streak. For the season Bourque is 17-23-40.
Daniel Maggio (2009 6th) was scoreless for the 3rd straight game as his Sudbury Wolves dropped a 3-1 decision to the Brampton Battalion. The loss was also the Wolves 3rd straight as they are in 7th place in the OHL's Western Conference but now in danger of dropping out of the playoff race.
Scott Stajcer (2009 5th) and his Owen Sound Attack dropped the second half of their home and home series with the London Knights 4-2. It is hard to fault Stajcer as the Attack gave up 2 power play goals and a short handed goal which were the causes of the defeat.
Stajcer gave up 4 goals on 30 shots to see his season record fall to 19-19-3-1. The Attack now also have to worry about falling out of a playoff spot as 9th place Guelph has climbed to within 2 points of them but Guelph has 3 games in hand.
Chris Kreider (2009 1st) saw his 3 game goal scoring streak come to an end as his Boston College Eagles dropped a 4-1 decision to UMass-Lowell. The loss came at a bad time as Boston College is fighting 2 other teams for the 2nd seed in the Hockey East playoffs.
One of those teams is Danny Hobb's (2007 7th) UMass-Amherst as they blew a chance to force a 3 way tie as they lost 2-0 to Northeastern. Hobbs returned to the Minutemen lineup after missing 2 games due to an undisclosed injury.
Hobbs was on the UMass first line and to be honest in the 3 games we have seen we wonder why. It gives us a reason to make the effort to find out next week.
Max Campbell (2007 5th) had an assist but it was was just a blip as his Western Michigan Broncos watched a 2-1 lead turn into a 7-2 whipping by North Michigan. This one turned ugly as Campbell was a -3 on the night as his night like his team's season was a nightmare.
Luke Walker may have to re-enter the draft but that is not going to stop us from making a case for the Rangers picking him or any of his teammates in the 2010 draft. Walker was named the game's first star on the road as his Portland Winterhawks defeated the Prince George Cougars.
Walker had 2 goals including one on a penalty shot for his 24th and 25th goals of the season. Walker was also a +3 as the Winterhawks are continuing their "return to glory" season by moving up to 3rd in the WHL's Western Conference.
If not for division winners getting the higher seed the Winterhawks actually have the 2nd best record in the conference.
(Doyle courtesy of Katherine Ep, Hagelin: Scott Galvin/Michigan Photo Services, Roman Horak: Chilliwack Bruins)
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