Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Mixed Bag

The best way to describe how the New York Ranger prospects performed on Wednesday evening would be to compare it to on of those bad TV medical dramas. One patient found new life, another found himself on life support, one passed away and the last one passed on.

Sam Klassen is the one with new life as his Saskatoon Blades earned a very badly needed win in Brandon 5-4 over the Wheat Kings in Game 3 of their WHL playoff series. The Blades though made sure that they put their fans though a lot of suffering before earning this win.

The Blade jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 2nd period before Brandon answered with 3 unanswered goals for a 3-1 lead and what looked like the beginning of the end for the Blade's season. But Klassen and his Blades rallied with 4 unanswered goals of their own for a 5-3 lead before a late goal by Brandon with the extra attacker brought the score closer.

Klassen was his typical no points, good defense self as the Blades cut the Wheat King's lead in the series to just 2-1 but they are a long way from turning this series in their favor.

Tomas Kundratek and his Medicine Hat Tigers went from a very good win on Tuesday night to their season is now on life support after the Tigers lost 4-1 to the Calgary Hitmen in game 4 to fall to 3-1 in the series. The Tigers simply could not solve the Hitmen's defensive scheme as the Hitmen held the Tigers to just 9 total shots over the last 2 periods.

Kundratek was held in check and that was a key to keeping the Tigers off balance and frustrated. Now the odds are really stacked against the Tigers since Calgary got their wake up call in the first round against Moose Jaw. The Hitmen will not take any chances after having to come back from down 3-1 themselves.

Ryan Bourque saw his season come to a frustrating end as Chris Doyle's Victoriaville Tigres finished off Bourque's Quebec Remparts in 4 games after a 4-2 loss. Doyle missed this game due to personal reasons but Bourque just was held in check by the Tigre defense.

Bourque was totally shut out in their series and hopefully it was a learning experience to build upon for next season. For Bourque, this season had to be viewed as a mixture of joy and frustration as it was clear when Bourque was healthy he produced (19-24-43 in 44 games).

The critics are going to have some ammo going into next season on Bourque but we have faith in him if he can add some muscle to his frame. Bourque has some potential as a player but he is going to have to work a lot harder than most others because they will hold his height against him.

As for Doyle; he missed this game because of his ongoing problems in Prince Edward Island from when he was a member of the Rockets. Now hopefully all of this will end before the next round so Doyle can get back to concentrating on hockey.

On Thursday, the NCAA's Frozen Four gets underway in Detroit with 3 key Ranger prospects seeing action. For our selfish pleasure we are going to hope that things break the right way so on Saturday, Ranger prospects will play against each other for the National championship.

First up will be the Badger brothers (Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh) as they lead their Wisconsin Badgers against the Cinderella team of the NCAA tournament the RIT Tigers. Now we know our bias colors our judgment in some cases but we have been watching the Badgers for this entire season but we think the clock strikes midnight for the Tigers.

The Badgers just have too much of everything for RIT to overcome as the only way we see Wisconsin losing is if they beat themselves with an inconsistent game. We just do not see it happen as we see the leadership of the Badgers (starting with McDonagh) carrying the Badgers to Championship game.

The first game starts at 5PM EDT on ESPN2 and if you have not seen either Derek Stepan or Ryan McDonagh then you might want to watch this game as both are future Rangers.

In the other game Chris Kreider and his Boston College Eagles take on the Miami of Ohio Redhawks in what should be the better of the semi-final matchups. While Kreider is looking to continue his dream year; the Redhawks are looking to erase last season's collapse in the finals against current Ranger Matt Gilroy and Boston University.

Boston College is facing one of the best defensive teams in college hockey but also one that is on a dual mission. The first is the one we just mentioned about losing in last season's final but the other is to honor Brendan Burke who's story has been retold hundreds of times since his death.

For Boston College to win then they have to jump on Miami and never stop until the final buzzer. They will need to score on their power play chances (they are currently 0 for the NCAA tournament) and use their team speed on the forecheck.

What they can not afford to do is try to play from behind against this Miami team as they will have a rough time trying to comeback in the 3rd period. We hope they do because Derek Stepan has said if given the chance he will knock his friend Chris Kreider on his tail if he gets him.

Kreider's response was "he is welcome to try" and we have to agree as we have watched player after player try to knock Kreider off his skates and it just has not happened.

(Klassen courtesy of the Saskatoon Blades)

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