Friday, January 7, 2011

Back To Something Close To Normal

The holidays are over, the prospects are heading back to there teams and several dogfights in the 2nd half are going to make for some great hockey

We like it when a prospect responds in a positive manner to criticism as Jason Wilson (NYR 2010 5th) of the Niagara IceDogs has done since coming back from the OHL holiday break. Wilson was called out by a local writer saying that fans and media were expecting more from Wilson.

So against the Belleville Bulls, it was Wilson who set the tone and earned himself a first star with a goal and +2 to lead his IceDogs to a 3-0 win.

Jeff Blay of the IceDogs sent us this game report:

After Darren Archibald took a bone-crushing hit early in the first, IceDogs over-ager Jason Wilson took exception and proceeded to hit every Belleville player in sight before parking himself in front of the Bulls net and tipping in a Simon Gronvaldt shot at the 1:42 mark to make it 1-0 Niagara. 

Good for him now let us see him does this consistently in the 2nd half. Wilson is now 7-10-17 +7 as since December 4th has gone 1-7-8 in his last 9 games.

 It has not been the easiest of seasons for Dan Maggio (NYR 2009 6th) as he was traded from Sudbury to Guelph to start the season but then things went wrong for the young defender. 

Guelph got off to a horrible start the led to the coach/Gm first being stripped of his GM title then eventually fired as coach. Maggio suffered an elbow injury that cost him time, came back and got a 2 game suspension for a dirty check. 

Then Maggio injured his ankle and while he was recovering, the new GM in Guelph after firing the coach sent Maggio home before trading him to the Oshawa General. We have had a good relationship with the Guelph Storm but when a team spreads rumors that player is troublesome via the local media then we have a problem. 

This is what WE know, Dan Maggio has attended 2 New York Ranger prospect camps, 2 Ranger prospect camps as part of Traverse City and not once have we heard word one about Maggio being a problem. Say what you want about John Tortorella but if a kid prospect was a problem child then rest assured Tortorella's foot would be inserted so far up said prospect's backside that it would still have the footprints showing even today. 

Another thing is the Oshawa Generals are owned by Adam Graves, Peter DeBoer (coach of the Florida Panthers), and  Rocco Tullio. They are coached/GM by Chris DiPiero who is assisted by former Ranger Joey Cirella not one of these guys would add a "problem child" to their roster. 

Wait let us also toss in that the Generals have on their roster Calvin DeHaan (NYI 2009 1st), Tony DeHart (NYI 2010 5th) and Christian Thomas (NYR 2010 2nd). The Generals gave up a total of 4 draft picks for Maggio which sounds kind of steep for a "troublesome" young man.

Maggio had not played since Novemeber 27th having injured his ankle on that day so it was in many ways poetic justice that Maggio made his return against the same Guelph Storm. Maggio did not have a bad game in his debut with the Generals as even though he did not score he was a +2.

Christian Thomas scored his 26th goal (4th best in the OHL) of the season just 48 seconds into the game, added his 22nd assist to give him 50 points (16th in OHL)  for the season as well as a +16. Tony DeHart was    scoreless but a +2 as the Generals lost 6-5 in the shootout.

The keys to this game was special teams as the Generals giving up 3 power play goals (they were missing Calvin De Haan on defense), allowing a shorthanded and missing on their shootout attempts. Maggio deserved a better fate. 

A 7 game road trip is a tough test for any team but with one game remaining on a trip that Dylan McIlrath (NYR 2010 1st) and his Moose Jaw Warriors have gone 5-1; it is time to start including the Warriors in the discussions of WHL contenders.

Thursday night it was the Kelowna Rockets who found out about the Warriors and their relentless attack. McIlrath did not score but was a +3 as the Warriors used a 4 goal 2nd period to win 4-2.

The Warriors are one of the biggest teams (in size) in the WHL and honestly you do not want to get into a slugfest with them as they have 7 players who have at least 3 fighting majors. McIlrath is also not the only 6'5 in the lineup for the Warriors as Cody Beach is 6'6.

We have said this before if the Warriors can add another proven scorer to their lineup then they will be a very legit threat for the WHL title. As it is the Warriors control their own destiny with 5 games remaining against conference leading Saskatoon.

Win or lose what we are really seeing is the development of Moose Jaw right before our eyes as he was already good defensively but now he is introducing a shot from the point that is powerful and heavy. McIlrath is also going to the net with more confidence and we would not be surprised if Moose Jaw did not put him in the slot to be that wide body on the power play.

Imagine someone trying to move him out of the crease or a goalie trying to see past McIlrath's 6'5 frame? McIlrath still has some work to do before he comes out as a Ranger but the development is now speeding up which is good news for the Rangers and bad news for everyone else.

(Wilson and Maggio /Aaron Bell and Terry Wilson, McIlrath/The Hockey News)

No comments: