Bravo for life's little ironies as with the New York Rangers heading to Anaheim to take on the Ducks on Wednesday, it is only fitting that Dylan McIlrath was playing on Tuesday night.
OK let me get it out of the way; yes I am biased because the "Truck" plays my kind of old school get in their face hockey. Yes I am biased because McIlrath plays in my backyard the WHL which I believe is the best league for future NHLers.
If you have any other bias complaints that I have I will take them too as I liked the pick at the draft and I have yet to see a single reason why to change my mind.
The first time McIlrath sends a Dan Carcillo flying with a clean hit, you too will love him.
The first time you watch Dylan McIlrath keeping someone from thinking about running a Ranger you will love him too.
I will bet my house, your house and the Wisconsin state budget that the first time anyone and I mean anyone even looks at Henrik Lundqvist wrong way, they will be scraping what is left of him off the ice for weeks to follow. And you will love Dylan McIlrath too.
The short story is that McIlrath's Moose Jaw Warriors lost 5-1 to the team they most likely will be facing in the 1st round of the WHL playoffs the Kootenay Ice. The Warriors have been struggling as of late in the 2nd half of the season.
McIlrath is 5-18-23 +4 with 129 PIMs and 9 fighting majors for the Warriors. Please remember the 9 fighting majors for a little later.
Going right to the point as no matter if Cam Fowler scores 6 goals, has 12 assists and sells beer in the stands against the Rangers on Wednesday; the selection of Dylan McIlrath was the right one at the time of the draft and even today remains the right move.
Too many Ranger fans have looked at Cam Fowler's numbers and trashed the selection of McIlrath. McIlrath is paying for Michael Del Zotto's failure to progress this season and that is totally unfair.
It is not McIlrath's fault that Del Zotto failed to make forward progress as nobody and I mean nobody expected to say at this time of the season that Del Zotto would be playing in the AHL. The Rangers planned for Del Zotto to be their offensive weapon so they set their draft up accordingly.
The Rangers also knew that while they had 3 strong defensive minded players in Staal, Girardi and McDonagh that none of them were known as good hard hitters. None of them are going to make someone think twice about parking in the crease and combined the 3 players have 1 fighting major (Sauer has 5 by himself).
Despite Staal's All-Star status this season none of these 3 will deter anyone from doing anything. Yes they block shots but that is a great way to break a bone or two. How about just not letting them get a shot off in the first place?
That is the element that McIlrath brings to the Rangers, between that 86 inch wingspan and the already built for the NHL body; McIlrath is a defensive stopper. McIlrath means that his partner can pinch in and know that someone will cover for him.
McIlrath does deter people from trying to set up in the crease, McIlrath's 6'5 body says you are not touching Henrik Lundqvist and if McIlrath was a Ranger last season, they would still be scraping off the ice what was left of Carcillo.
When Gordie Clark explained his thinking in selecting McIlrath; there was no way I could object to the Rangers selecting what I have been asking the Rangers to do since before Glen Sather was hired as General Manager. They needed a defensive stopper, a presence in the lineup who just by being there makes people think about running you and someone who understands what taking the body means.
All season long people have gone on and on and on about Cam Fowler's great numbers but sorry guess what those numbers are not that hot. Fowler is 7-22-29 in 60 games which are decent offensive numbers except that Dan Girardi has 24 assists and Marc Staal the same number of goals.
You still want some numbers then try some of these on as Fowler is supposed to be a defenseman right? The whispers said Fowler was soft on defense and right off the bat a -23 does not help his cause.
Oh but it gets better people as Fowler in 60 games has just 16 PIMs but here is what should tell you have soft Fowler is; 36 hits and 74 blocked shots. Are you kidding me really you wanted this guy? Why?
A defenseman with just 36 hits? Mats Zucarello has 48 hits in half the number of games played. Yes that is right Mats "I am not tall enough to ride on a rollercoaster by myself" Zacarrello has more hits than defenseman Cam "Stay Puff" Fowler.
Michael Del Zotto in his 47 games before demotion and re-demotion had 92 hits and 72 blocked shots. And he is the major liability on the Ranger blueline. Sorry I would keep Del Zotto too over Fowler.
And can we be honest here for a second? If Ranger fans watched Fowler put up a -5 in front of the Garden crowd just how fast would people be screaming for Gordie Clark's, Glen Sather's and the entire scouting staff's head?
There were several reasons why Cam Fowler fell to the Ducks but I just needed 1 to know why I passed. It is called NO DEFENSE
Give me the Semi-Truck known as Dylan McIlrath over the Mini Cooper known as Cam Fowler any day.
8 days ago I was laying in a hospital bed feeling sorry for myself, my personal pity party was going at full blast and I am sure my wife was dreading having to stay home to take care of me. (something about her jumping for joy at returning to work says that someone is a terrible patient)
Tomorrow I get to start working on my rehab but unlike any of the rehabs I have done before; I welcome this one because I want to show all of you that the faith, support and caring you showed me was not misplaced.
But if anyone would like to take over wearing the Alpha Dog Collar, I would not mind sharing that part with you.