Thursday, March 10, 2011

Eating Words Tastes Better On Rye

You know if you have got to eat your words then you might as well find a way to enjoy them. That said the Wednesday night  New York Islander and New York Ranger prospects report provided us with some a nice assortment of words to eath.

Of all the prospects we have covered this season, Tony DeHart (NYI 2010 5th) has to be the most unsung of the bunch. While others have gotten noticed one way or another; all DeHart has done is be perhaps the perfect role player willing to play whatever role his Oshawa Generals need to help them win.

He does not have the passing skills like teammate Calvin De Haan (NYI 2009 1st) does. He does not have the offensive firepower that teammate Christian Thomas (NYR 2010 2nd) does or the rep as a fighter that teammate Dan Maggio (NYR 2009 6th) has.

But on Wednesday night DeHart was just as important as his 3 teammates earning the game's second star as his General defeated the Belleville Bulls 5-2. DeHart had the good old "Gordie Howe" hat trick and it was a good reminder that as important as the game's first star Christian Thomas is to winning so are the efforts of a guy like DeHart.

What was interesting to note that DeHart did something different in each period starting with DeHart's 4th goal of the season at 9:57 of the first period tied the game up at 1-1. In the second period DeHart got into his 5th fight of the season taking on the Bulls Austen Brassard in a rather good bout (but we gave the nod to Brassard)

(stick tap to JimKorn20 for posting the video)

In the third period, DeHart earned his 24th assist of the season when he got the primary on Lucas Lessio's 25th goal of the season 2:30 of the third period for a 5-2 General lead which finished off the Bulls for the night. DeHart's fine line for the night was a 1-1-2, +2 5 PIM to give him a 4-24-28 +14 71 PIMs (5 fighting majors) for the season.

As for Thomas, he earned the game's first star by going 1-2-3 +1 in the General's win. Thomas's goal was his 49th on the season second best in the entire OHL so now it is no longer a matter of if he will reach 50 goals but rather how many can he score in his remaining 5 games.

Goal number 49 came at 5:29 of the 2nd period was it gave his Generals a 3-1 lead turning the goal into also Thomas 8th game winning goal of the season. Remember all that talk about worrying about Thomas and his height becoming a factor into whether or not he could make it in the NHL?

Before we dig a deeper hole and say that we doubt Thomas can put up a 49--39-88 kind of number in the NHL; we will simply say that without a doubt Thomas is clearly the best Ranger prospect of the 2010-11 season. But then again he kind of walked away from the rest of the Ranger prospects about a month ago as Thomas is 15-13-28 in his last 16 games.

Calvin De Haan chipped in 2 assists in this win with a secondary assist on DeHart's goal then teaming up with Thomas on Oshawa's 4 goal of the game. De Haan is 2-9-11 in his last 9 games as he improves to 3-38-41 on the season.

Dan Maggio was the only member of the quartet who did not join the scoring party as the Generals improved to 7-1-0-2 in their last 10 games. This General team is not who you would want to face in the upcoming OHL playoffs.

The team that most likely is going to face the Generals in the opening round of the OHL playoffs is Ethan Werek's (NYR 2009 2nd) Kingston Frontenacs. The Frontenacs have been nothing more than a 500 team over the last month and they dropped a 5-1 decision to the Ottawa 67's.

Werek had a secondary assist on Kingston's only goal for his 49th point of the season. No offense to Werek but by the time the 3rd period rolled along all we were wondering was how lucky the Rangers and Islanders are that Tyler Toffoli is a Los Angeles King's prospect.

Do not let that baby face fool you as while this kid will most likely be carded until he is 30; he is that good enough to change the balance of power in the NHL's Pacific Division. The only player in the OHL who has more goals than Christian Thomas; if he does not make the Kings next training camp will be the bigger shock than making it.

The best pure goal scorer we have watched all season in any of the leagues CHL or NCAA period. How exactly did this guy fall to the 47th pick in last season's draft again? He was what a weak skater? Pass the mustard please and remember how many teams passed on him twice.

Remember all that silly talk about how Roman Horak and his Chilliwack Bruins might not even make the WHL playoffs? Those words are getting more and more tasty to chew on after Horak's 24th goal helped his Bruins win their 6th straight game 2-0 over the Vancouver Giants.

The Bruins have gone from 11th in the WHL's Western Conference 5 points out to 6th place and needing 2 more points to clinch a playoffs spot. Horak's goal came at 9:27 of the third period in a game that was a tale of 2 teams heading in opposite directions.

The Bruins are 7-2-0-1 in their last 10 games while the Giants are 3-7. From the outhouse the Bruins are now just 4 points behind the 5th place Giants with just 6 games remaining.

Guess the Whale are not going to get any prospect help this year after all.

One thing though as much as we understand that there is a place for fighting in hockey and respect that. What we do not have respect for are the kind of questionable hits that cause to be taken off the ice on a stretcher.

Sorry you can pull back even at the last second, you can make the choice to lessen the chance of someone like a Michael Burns winding up in Vancouver General Hospital with "concussion like" symptoms. And for crying out loud can we please knock off the "concussion like" nonsense already as if you have to be taken off the ice on a stretcher then you have some degree of a head injury.

And yes the subject is touchy because the very next that happened when play resumed was a line brawl. Vancouver was on a power play so 4 players on both teams either had a roughing or a fighting penalty called. Even worse is that exactly 2:58 after the line brawl, Curt Gogol of the Bruins got called for a hit from behind and ejected.

Maybe it is time that instead of the players paying with suspensions that the coaches do the time and get the fines. Wonder how fast a coach will demand better of his players when he is paying the price for them.

Elsewhere in the WHL, Dylan McIlrath (NYR 2010 1st) had a basically quiet game as his Moose Jaw Warriors defeated the Lethbridge Hurricanes 5-3. Interesting to note that Lethbridge was missing their coach who was serving a 1 game suspension for his behavior.

David Toews (2008 3rd) had an assist for his 42nd point of the season but his Brandon Wheat Kings dropped their 2nd straight game 5-3 to the Saskatoon Blades. The Wheat Kings could have clinched a playoff spot of their own had they won but their magic number is just 1 point.

In the QMJHL, Ryan Bourque (NYR 2009 3rd) and his Quebec Remparts defeated the Chicoutmi Sagueneens 5-2 to pull within 1 point of 2nd place in the QMJHL. Bourque did not score and was called for just his 4 minor of the season.

(Images: Thomas, DeHart and de Haan/OHL Images/Aaron Bell and Terry Wilson, Horak/Chilliwack Bruins)

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