Friday, March 5, 2010

Time To Man It UP Popeye

For many of the New York Ranger prospects Friday night was a very important starting point as this is the time of year where possible contracts. ATOs and lifelong dreams will either be made or they will get broken possibly forever.

Instead of offering out stars we are going to report on the prospects in terms of how important a game they were playing so we start with Carl Hagelin (2007 6th) and his Michigan Wolverines as they opened up their CCHA playoff series with Lake Superior State.

Hagelin ended his regular season with an 11 game scoring streak and was Michigan's leading scorer for the season. Still none of that means anything now as Michigan is in a position where they have to win the CCHA playoffs in order to earn a trip to the NCAAs for the 20th straight year.

Hagelin was scoreless as Michigan took Game 1 of their best of 3 series with Lake Superior State. Hagelin was held to 3 shots on goal but earned a +1. Hagelin played decently but if Michigan wants a miracle shot at the NCAAs then he needs to elevate his game big time.

Max Campbell (2007 5th) may have played his last game of the season as his Western Michigan Broncos dropped Game 1 of their CCHA series to Alaska-Fairbanks 4-0. Max has long been one of our favorites here which makes the following so very disappointing to have to report.

Campbell was hit with a 5 minute major as well as a game misconduct for headbutting UAF's Andy Taranto at 16:56 of the 3rd period. It capped off a terrible evening for Campbell who was a -3 as well as 2-15 on his faceoffs.

As much as we like Max, we are sorry there is no reason that will explain away head butting and for that if Campbell sits; he will deserve it. Campbell may have pushed himself off the prospect radar after this season.

In the Hockey East, Danny Hobbs (2007 7th) and his UMass Minutemen needed to sweep their 2 game series at Maine along with getting some help from others just to be able to make the Hockey East playoffs. UMass did their first part winning 5-2 even though Hobbs did not score.

This sets up a "last chance" game for UMass on Saturday as if they win or tie while either Northeastern or Vermont lose then UMass will earn the 7th seed. That one was the easiest one to explain as there are so many different possibilities that we just do not have the time to explain them. Win and UMass is in.

Still for Hobbs, it is frustrating to see someone with talent just not realize that he can do more and sadly for him he is going to face a key junior season next year.

Chris Krieder (2009 1st) did his part scoring his 10th goal in his last 12 games (12th on the season) while adding an assist but his 5th ranked Boston College blew a 3-0 lead and settled for a 3-3 tie with New Hampshire. The price for Boston College was that they lost out on a chance to win the Hockey East regular season title for sure the top seed in the Hockey East playoffs.

The tie also may cost Boston College down the road when it comes to NCAA seedings as if they do not win the Hockey East playoffs they will most likely wind up being sent away from the Eastern Regional.

Still Kreider has been turning up his game big time since returning from the World Juniors. A 12 game scoring streak (10-2-12) is a nice way to end his freshman season but he still needs a lot of work so we will cut off any talk about him leaving school by saying he is not ready.

But when Kreider is ready then life for the Rangers will get that much better.

Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) and Ryan McDonagh (2009 Trade) are going to start the WCHA playoffs as the 2nd seed after winning their 4th straight game 3-2 over rival Minnesota. Stepan earned a secondary assist (40th point of season) on Wisconsin's 2nd goal while McDonagh was scoreless but played a role in shutting out Minnesota's power play (0-6).

The Badgers have just about sewn up a spot in the NCAAs but need to win their first round series next weekend to guarantee it.

The Prospects in the Juniors

For the Ranger prospects in the CHL, they too are playing games that will go a long way in determining their own playoff status.

One day after singing the praises of Chris Doyle (2008 5th) then he winds up with a struggling game but one clunker in 3 months is more than acceptable with us. Doyle was a -3 and scoreless as his Victoriaville Tigres earned a 6-5 shootout win over the Montreal Junior.

The Tigre will go into the QMJHL playoffs as the 2nd seed from the Central Division and will face Shawinigan in the first round.

Ryan Bourque (2009 3rd) missed his 6th straight game with a neck injury as his Quebec Remparts lost to the Gatineau Olympiques 5-3. The loss though does not impact their playoff situation as the Remparts have earned the 1 seed out of the Eastern Division but still do not know who they will face.

In the OHL, Ethan Werek (2009 2nd) and his Kingston Frontenacs dropped a 5-2 decision to the Oshawa Generals and basically ended their hopes of catching Ottawa for the OHL's Eastern Division. Werek had an assist for his 57th point of the season but it looks like the Fronts could wind up with the 4th seed in the OHL Eastern Conference.

We have a correction as Daniel Maggio (2009 6th) is not injured but rather suspended 2 games for abuse of an official. Maggio served the 2nd game of his suspension as his Sudbury Wolves were able to hold off the Belleville Bulls for a 4-3 win.

The win was big for Sudbury as they jumped past the Peterborough Petes for the 6th seed in the OHL's Eastern Conference. 4 teams are fighting for the last 3 playoff spots in that conference but Sudbury has a slight edge with a game in hand.

Mitch Gaulton (2008 6th) and his Erie Otters dropped a 5-2 decision to the Kitchener Rangers missing out on a chance to move into the 6th seed in the OHL's Western Conference. That would have them possibly facing the same Kitchener Rangers who just defeated them.

Gaulton was scoreless but the Otters on Saturday with a win could eliminate Scott Stajcer and the Owen Sound Attack from the playoff race. As of right now Stajcer appears to be the only Ranger prospect who will not see any playoff action.

In the WHL, Roman Horak (2009 5th) scored his 20th goal of the season as his Chilliwack Bruins clinched the 8th playoff spot in the WHL's Western Conference with a 4-1 win over the team they will be facing in the first round, the Tri-City Americans.

What makes this interesting is that the Bruins now have won 2 straight games agains the Americans which is going to be a huge confidence booster for the Bruins. Horak became the 4th Ranger draft pick to score his 20th goal of the season.

Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) and his Medicine Hat Tigers defeated the Kootenay Ice 2-1 as Kundratek netted his 31st assist of the season. The win pulls the 6th place Tigers to within 3 points of the 4th seeded Ice with 4 games remaining.


Get your DVRs Ready

If you get the NHL Network USA then Sunday evening as the Rangers take on the Sabres, the NHL Network is going to show a WHL game featuring Sam Klassen (2009 UFA) and his Saskatoon Blades as they take on the Calgary Hitmen.

We really do suggest you check out this game as Klassen (who wears number 3) is a hard hitting stay at home defenseman which sadly many a Ranger fan has forgotten what it looks like in a Ranger uniform.

(Popeye courtesy of King Features)

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