Saturday, February 13, 2010

Got Crunch Goals?

Do you hear that sound? That is the sound of silence as those who have been critical of certain New York Ranger prospects are losing their reasons to complain about them.

First Star Chris Kreider

Until the World Under-20 championships people were wondering where was Chris Kreider (2009 1st) offensive numbers? 6 goals in 7 games and a gold medal lowered the volume quite a bit.

So returning to Boston College and Kreider has turned into a bit of a goal scoring machine. Kreider entered Boston College's game with UMass-Lowell having 5 goals in his last 6 games.

By now most have seen Kreider's goal in the finals of the Beanpot Tournament which has to be one of the best goals scored by a Ranger prospect this season. Now Kreider can add biggest clutch goal by a prospect to his collection of goals.

Boston College and UMass Lowell were tied 1-1 and on their way to overtime when Kreider scored with just 13.8 seconds remaining in regulation. It was Kreider's 8th goal of the season and 6th in his last 7 games as it gave Boston College a big win in the Hockey East race.

It was Kreider's first game winning goal at Boston College but the way he has been playing since rejoining the Eagles after the World Juniors; there will be a few more before this season is done.

Second Star Ryan McDonagh

When the Rangers traded Scott Gomez and got the rights to Ryan McDonagh, Ranger fans were very happy getting the 12th pick in the 2007 Draft. McDonagh playing for the Wisconsin Badgers has been one of their team leaders the last 2 seasons.

Still there has been some grumblings since McDonagh was not putting up huge offensive numbers this season but the truth is that McDonagh has been doing his job quite well. McDonagh is a 2 way defender who had been putting his defense first this season and when he is playing on the 3rd best team in College Hockey it is hard to argue with him.

Against Minnesota State, McDonagh had a very strong game in what turned out to be a bit of an offensive shootout. McDonagh scored his 4th goal of the season (1 short of what he did last season) in a 8-4 Wisconsin win.

McDonagh led the Badgers with 4 shots on goal and put up a +2 for the game. For McDonagh it looks like he is finally playing at 100% after dealing with a series of nagging injuries earlier in the season.

McDonagh is a solid defender who plays a smart game and is used in all situations by Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves. One thing that needs to be pointed out to Ranger fans is that Mike Eaves is a defensive minded coach who demands that his players play defense first.

The Rest of the Ranger Prospects

Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) had a secondary assist on Wisconsin's 6th goal in the game against Minnesota State. But Stepan has now gone 7 games without scoring a goal which is a bit of a concern for us.

Stepan only took 1 shot during this game and we have noticed that he is looking as much for his shot as of late. Stepan needs to put that chip back on his shoulder to be more effective as Wisconsin is going to need his offense when the Badgers play in the NCAAs.

Carl Hagelin (2007 6th) had a secondary assist to extend his scoring streak to a career best 7 straight games but his Michigan Wolverines suffered a serious blow to their hopes of making the NCAAs after losing 4-1 to Nebraska-Omaha. Hagelin improved his numbers to 13-22-35 in 33 games this season.

Michigan was swept for the first time by Nebraska-Omaha ever and fell to 7th place in the CCHA. It looks like the only hope the Wolverines have now of making the NCAAs for the 20th straight season is going to be by winning the automatic bid in the CCHA playoffs.

One night after defeating their expected first round playoff opponent on the road, Roman Horak (2009 5th) and his Chilliwack Bruins returned home to face the Vancouver Giants who would be who the Bruins faced if they improved to the 7th seed. The Bruins lost to the Giants 4-2 as Horak registered his 23rd assist and 39th point of the season.

The Ranger's other 2009 5th round pick Scott Stajcer needed to backstop his Owen Sound Attack to a win over the Guelph Storm. Having lost 2 straight to the London Knights; the Attack have fallen to 9th place in the OHL's Eastern Conference behind the Guelph Storm.

The Storm have 3 games in hand over the Attack so Stajcer came up with a big performance stopping 37 out of 39 shots in the Attack's 6-2 win. The Attack remain in 9th despite having 2 more points than the Storm so they will need some help from other teams to erase those 3 games in hand.

Stajcer improved his season record to 20-19-3-1 3.49 and 0.903.

Sam Klassen (2009 UFA) and his Saskatoon Blades went to Lethbridge to as their press release said "The Drive For 5" as the Blades have pulled out of their recent slump. The Blades scored a 3-2 overtime win as they have reclaimed the best record in the WHL.

Klassen was scoreless but in a rare case was a -1 in a Blade win.

Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) and his Medicine Hat Tigers dropped their 2nd straight game, 4-1 to the Swift Current Broncos. Kundratek was scoreless as the Tigers fell closer to 6th place than to 1st place.

Danny Hobbs (2007 7th) scored just his 3rd goal of the season as his UMass Minuteman dropped their 3rd straight game losing 6-3 to Northeastern. UMass has been in a nosedive losing 5 out of their last 6 games.

Max Campbell (2007 5th) and his Western Michigan Broncos played a lot better than they did on Friday evening but still lost this time only 2-1 to rival Northern Michigan. Campbell was scoreless but Western Michigan dropped to 8-17-5.

We get to end this though on a happier note as the Portland Winterhawks continued their drive to the top defeating the Prince George Cougars 3-1. The Winterhawks are 7-0-1 in their last 8 games and pulled to within 4 points of first place Tri-City.

(Kreider courtesy of Dennis Peace, McDonagh courtesy of Melody Hasse)

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