Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Beginning of Their Season's End

This is always the hardest part of the season for everyone involved whether you are a prospect, coach or even a writer covering the prospects. Not sure which is worse; coming close to winning a championship or not even getting a chance to play in the playoffs.

At the NHL level, the players have been though this experience as they develop so when one has to write a critical article they understand it is not supposed to be personal.

In the years covering Ranger prospects, the one thing that we are not used to seeing is a prospect not making even a token appearance in their league playoffs. This season appears that there will be an exception to the rule as one and possibly a second Ranger prospect might not make the playoffs.

Scott Stajcer (2009 5th) has had an up and down season with the Owen Sound Attack but the last month has been mostly down as his Attack have gone 3-6-0-1 in their last 10 games. For all intents and purposes the Attack were eliminated on Wednesday when they lost to the London Knights 4-3.

Stajcer gave up 4 goals on 40 shots as he lost for the 7th time in 11 starts and if you go strictly by the numbers then it is easy to pin this on Stajcer but it is not all on him. Just like we saw Antoine Lafleur go through when you do not get defensive support, when you find yourself appearing in 54 out of your team's 65 games then spread the blame around.

The one thing that it really does look like is that Stajcer's confidence if not gone is on shaky ground. The question now is are we going to see yet another young goalie be ruined by being in a bad situation?

We hope not but for this season the Attack trail the Guelph Storm by 3 points with 3 games remaining but Guelph has 5 games remaining.

Other Prospect Action

The Attack's bad luck was Mitch Gaulton (2008 6th) and his Erie Otters good fortune. The Attack's loss clinched a playoff spot for the Otters even they lost to the Guelph Storm 4-1. Gaulton was scoreless in his 2nd game back from injury.

The WHL's Eastern Conference race for playoff seeding is one of the more interesting races we get to watch because every night the standings will change. Sam Klassen (2009 UFA) and his Saskatoon Blades have 6 games left to earn the top seed after losing to their rival Brandon Wheat Kings 5-3.

The loss which was the Blade's 2nd straight leaves them in 3rd in the conference as well as 2nd in the East Division as the Wheat Kings and Calgary Hitmen will battle down to the last game for the top seed. The Wheat Kings already have a spot in the Memorial Cup as the host city but if they were to win the Eastern Conference then the WHL's spot in the Memorial Cup will go to the winner of the Western Conference.

Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) and his Medicine Hat Tigers are also going to the playoffs as they clinched their spot the other night but now their fight is for seeding as the Tigers needed the shootout in order to defeat the Moose Jaw Warriors 3-2. Kundratek was scoreless but the Tigers opened up a 6 point lead over the Warriors for the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Tigers and Red Deer Rebels both have 80 points after Wednesday's action but Red Deer has a game in hand as the 6th seed will have an almost impossible task of winning a first round series but if it is a matchup between Saskatoon and Medicine Hat then the Hartford Wolfpack will be the winner since they will gain a defenseman from the losing team.


It will be interesting to see how the Rangers spin how they did not make a trade deadline deal for the first time since 2001. We are happy because it is as we had hoped the Rangers are now forced to sink or swim with their current roster.

Now if you want us to be honest with you then we are not going to shed a tear if the Rangers fail to make the playoffs. This was as it has been in the Sather era a poorly constructed roster that was based on how much money was spent instead of being developed as a team.

If John Tortorella is going to be the coach of the Rangers then he must be given a say not only in who makes the roster, who is drafted and who is developed in accordance to his system. If you are not going to do that then Tortorella is not going to win as coach because he is being handicapped by his own GM.

We are not fans of Sather, we are not fans of Tortorella and to be honest we would clean house of front office as well as roster. That is not going to happen so then the next best thing is to give the coach the best possible tools for him to run his system and win.

(Stajcer courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

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