Tuesday, February 16, 2010

You Do Not Have to Score to Be A Star

On the surface we will tell you that 2 New York Ranger prospects were in action on Tuesday evening and that neither put up a single point. Yet we can also tell you that both prospects were very much why their teams won their games.

We start in the QMJHL as Ryan Bourque (2009 3rd) and his Quebec Remparts returned home to host the Baie-Comeau Drakkar. Bourque has been on a hot streak of his own since returning to the Remparts from Team USA offensively.

Bourque was 6-9-15 in his last 10 games for the Remparts as the Remparts were expected to fall back in the QMJHL playoff race after making some deals in the last trading period have not because of Bourque's play.

On Tuesday, Bourque's Remparts won 1-0 in a pretty exciting game for the score. Bourque if you go by just the stat sheet had a quiet game with no points, just 3 shots on goal, 0-1 on faceoffs and 1 hit.

Yet there was Ryan Bourque being named as the game's second star right after his goalie and it was because of the things that normally do not show up on the stat board. Bourque was excellent on the defensive end; disrupting the Drakkar almost every time he was on the ice.

Bourque when he has the open space to skate is a monster on the forecheck. The best way to stop a team from scoring is to not let him out of his own defensive zone and Bourque is one of the best among Ranger prospects at doing it.

The Drakkar went 0 for 5 on their power plays and Bourque was a big reason why. What does not get spoken alot of has been Bourque's willingness to sacrifice his own game if helps the team win.

We got to see that side of him when he was the checking forward for Team USA and we have seen Bourque play a variety of roles for the Remparts where the team has needed him the most.

This is the kind of player the Rangers need more of.

The Ranger's best 2 way prospect this season has been Roman Horak (2009 5th) who plays for the Chilliwack Bruins of the WHL. When Horak first came over the thought was that Glen Sather used some pull to have the Bruins select Horak in the CHL Import Draft after the Rangers had drafted Horak (Sather owns part of the team).

Little was known about Horak other than the skinny said he had some offensive talent. The offensive talent we got see a lot of when Horak first came over as his passing skills just shocked us.

At Traverse City, Horak centered what turned out to be the Baby Ranger's best line along with Luke Walker and Daniel Bartek. Horak having never played with either had instant chemistry with both.

When the WHL regular season going we were expecting to see a one way offensive minded player. Boy were we shocked to see Horak the defensive player as there he is on Chilliwack's first line, on their power play but the main faceoff player on the penalty kill.

So on Tuesday as it was Chilliwack against the Seattle Thunderbird, we were looking forward to see how Horak handled himself against Prab Rai who is one of the very best skaters in the WHL. Guess we should have said how Prab Rai handled himself against Horak.

It got better as the Bruins were going against one of the very best goalies in the CHL in Calvin Pickard of the Thunderbirds. Pickard held his own but he had to come up with some very strong saves including 3 on Horak. Horak is a linemate of Ryan Howse who is one of the most underrated prospects in the WHL and Ranger fans should be very happy that he will be in the Western Conference to start his NHL career.

Chilliwack won with a goal just 37 seconds into overtime but this was a fun game to watch as both teams put up a great fight. Still when you have a player with the skill set that Horak has then you get spoiled watching him.

What gets us excited his what we can expect from a Horak who adds some strength to his upper body during the off-season. Horak is just 160 now but if you put 10-15 pounds on his 6'1 close to 6'2 frame and you get a player who should score 30 goals with ease.

If not for the play of Calvin Pickard (who we think is the best goalie prospect bar none) then Horak would have had a hat trick on Tuesday. Only the outstanding play of Pickard kept Horak from scoring.

(Bourque courtesy of Katherine Ep, Horak courtesy of the Chilliwack Bruins)

No comments: