For us what this time of the year means for us is that we get to separate the prospects from the pretenders. What matters to us is not how many points you score but how well you do in what we have called the "Staal Standard".
For those of you who do not know what the "Staal Standard" is then here is your explanation. The easy part is that yes it is named after Marc Staal but it is because of what Staal did as a member of the Sudbury Wolves during the 2007 OHL playoffs.
Staal put on a show in which he picked up his team on his back and carried them from a 6th seed all the way to the OHL finals. Staal went beyond points, he was the man playing in all situations, playing 15 minutes of an overtime period and then going right back out there in the next overtime period.
It was clearly a defining performance that we used to predict that Staal was jump directly to the Rangers bypassing Hartford which he did.
It is simple you get a point for making an impact play, not because you scored but the kind of point you scored. It has to be a game changing score to earn a point. You earn points when you make defensive plays, when you have a momentum changing hit or when you stop the other team's best scorer from having any impact.
Right now Sam Klassen is leading with 10 points (6 for blanking Willie Coetzee, 2 for hits, 2 for blocked shots) and not far behind is Roman Horak (8 points) who has for the most part been the best player for the Chilliwack Bruins at both ends of the ice.
Tonight's First Star: Ethan Werek
We said before the start of the Kingston Frontenacs/Brampton Battalion series that Ethan Werek (2009 2nd) had to be the man for the Fronts to have a chance at winning this series. For the first 2 games, Werek has been held to just one assist as the Battalion won both games to grab a 2-0 series lead.
Werek came though in game 3 as he netted his 1st career playoff goal and added his 2nd assist as the Fronts got back in the series with a 4-2 win. Let's go to the video replay for the highlights
Second Star Roman Horak
His Chilliwack Bruin's team has been in each of the first 2 games only to fall apart in the 3 period against the Tri-City Americans. Roman Horak (2009 5th) though has been playing some pretty good hockey so far and while the stats are not showing it, tonight's results did.
In game 3 of their series against the Bruins, it seemed as if every time a penalty call was made it was going against the Bruins. Horak though was a force on the penalty kill; breaking up plays and even had a shorthanded breakaway that should have resulted in a penalty on the Americans.
Still the 8th seeded Bruins after 3rd period collapses in the first 2 games stood strong as they defeated the Americans 5-1 to pull with in 2-1 in the series. Horak also added an assist on Chilliwack's 2nd goal of the game.
The same 2 teams go right back at it on Wednesday night.
The Rest of the Prospects
Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) appears that he is in no rush to get to Hartford as he helped his Medicine Hat Tigers to a 4-1 win over the Kootenay Ice to give the Tigers their 1st win of the series. Kundratek did not score but was a huge part of the Tiger penalty kill which shut out the Ice on 6 power play chances.
Chris Doyle (2008 5th) scored his 3rd goal of the playoffs but his Victoriaville Tigre gave up the winning goal with just 4 seconds remaining in regulation and lost 4-3 to the Shawinigan Cataractes. This one could be a serious blow as the Cataractes now lead the series 2-1.
Doyle is playing well so there is no complaints about his efforts as this goal came in the 2nd period giving the Tigre a 3-2. Doyle took 5 shots but 4 of them were good scoring chances and he also had one hit.
On the other hand Ryan Bourque (2009 3rd) and his Quebec Remparts played with fire in their first 2 games against the Acadie-Bathurst Titan and in game 3 got burnt. The Titan defeated the Remparts 4-2 and go themselves right back in the series.
Bourque was a mixture in this one as he had 3 good scoring chances on 6 shots but took a penalty late in the 3rd period as the Titan's were up 3-1.
Finally this one kind of really made us feel so sorry for Mitch Gaulton and his Erie Otters as they finally found their offense scoring 6 goals on just 19 shots but they allowed the Windsor Spitfires to score 7 on 58 shots to lose 7-6. Gaulton was scoreless but this series is now over except for the final loss.
Nothing against the Otters who lost several key players to injuries before this series started and had lost several players for other reasons during the season. The question now is going to be if and when this series comes to an end will the Rangers bring Gaulton to Hartford on an ATO?
Sadly we do not think so as the 2008 6th round pick has been hurt by several serious injuries and never regained the potential that many felt he had.
(Werek/Aaron Bell/OHL Images, Horak/Chilliwack Bruins)
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