Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Textbook Buttkicking

For the New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects, Friday night offered up not one but several different textbook examples on how to totally defeat the other team. Nobody did it better than the boys of the Oshawa Generals who just massacred the Kingston Frontenacs 10-1.

First Star Christian Thomas

Those who know us know we like to talk about our "Staal Standard" as a measuring stick for a prospect's readiness for the NHL. For Christian Thomas (NYR 2010 2nd) already after 2 playoff games he has recorded 4 Staal points which is unthinkable for when we started using this standard.

The standard is simple; measure the goals/assists in terms of how they impacted the game and this is what Thomas did. Thomas's first goal of the playoffs at 8:08 of the 1st period tied the score up at 1-1.

1:12 later at 9:20, Thomas set up Alain Berger for tiebreaking goal and Oshawa never looked back after that. That gives Thomas 2 "Staal" points on top of his 2 from game 1.

Thomas also had a 2nd goal (Oshawa's 8th) and a secondary assist (Oshawa's 7th) as Oshawa thanks to a 5 goal outburst to take a 2-0 series lead. Thomas was also named the game's first star as he is already 2-5-7 after 2 games.

Second Star David Toews

What is the corny saying; In big games you want your veterans to step up and lead; 20 years old may not seem old but at the junior level it makes you a veteran. David Toews (NYI 2009 4th) gave his Brandon Wheat Kings some veteran leadership with a goal and an assist as Brandon stole game 1 of their series with the Medicine Hat Tigers 7-2 win.

Toew got the Wheat Kings going when he scored the game's first goal at 5:44 of the first period at even strength. Toews added the assist on what proved to be the game winning goal at 4:25 of the 2nd period also at even strength.

Toews earns 2 "Staal" points for first goal and game winning assist as the "homeless" Brandon Wheat Kings grabbed a lead and never let the Tigers have a chance to really get going.

Third Star Dylan McIlrath

Offense wins games but defense wins championships and if you had any question as to whether or not Dylan McIlrath (NYR 2010 1st) was the right pick for the Rangers then we strongly urge you to find the tape of game 1 of the series between McIlrath's Moose Jaw Warriors and the Kootenay Ice.

We said that one of the keys to winning for the Warriors was McIlrath staying out of the penalty box and ruling the blueline. What we did not expect was a performance out of the Truck that made that contract he signed the other day oh so worth it.

The Ice could do nothing when McIlrath was putting on his best Marc Staal (wish we had a TOI but it had to be close to 26 minutes) and helping his Warriors to a 4-0 shut out win on the road over Kootenay. Yes we have raved about McIlrath all season but we were not the only one on this night.

May we direct your attention to our friends over at Buzzing the Net and see who they gave their 3rd star too. The Warriors have the 1-0 lead in the series but more importantly have stolen home ice away from the Ice.

The Rest of the Prospects

Tony DeHart (NYI 2010 5th) had 2 assists and was a +1, Daniel Maggio (NYR 2009 6th) had an assist and a +3 while Calvin de Haan (NYI 2009 1st) had an assist and a +1 as part of the 10-1 whipping of the Kingston Frontenacs. Oshawa jumps out to a 2-0 series lead as the Frontenacs were their own worst enemy.

The Frontenacs gave the Generals 13 power plays and should be thankful that the Generals only converted on 3 of them. The Frontenacs will get Ethan Werek (NYR 2009 2nd) back for game 3 but it will not change how dominate the Generals are in this series.

Ryan Bourque (NYR 2009 3rd) recorded 2 secondary assists as his Quebec Remparts had no problem with the Val-d'Or Foreurs 7-2. This game was over after 1 period with the Remparts scored 4 goals and cruised the rest of the way.

The Remparts just smothered the Foreurs holding them to just 18 shots for the entire game. The Remparts lead 1-0 in the series.

Kirill Kabanov (NYI 2010 3rd) and his Lewiston MAINEaics gave away their home ice advantage by losing to the Moncton Wildcats 4-1 in game 1 of their series. Kabanov was scoreless and a -1 for the game.

In the NCAAs, Carl Hagelin (NYR 2007 6th) and his Michigan Wolverines spotted Nebraska-Omaha a 2-0 first period lead but Wolverines tied the game and forced overtime before winning 3-2 to advance to the West Regional finals.

The game is going to be talked about for a while as it was decided by a video replay in overtime which as much as we wanted Michigan have to acknowledge was not (in our eyes) enough to overturn the original call of "no goal".

Hagelin was scoreless and even on 5 shots.

Still we were hoping it would lead to a dream match up against defending NCAA Champs Boston College but the Colorado College Tigers pulled off an 8-4 upset. The return of Chris Kreider (2009 1st) to the Boston College lineup was no help as Colorado spotted Boston College a 1-0 lead just 19 second into the game as Kreider had the secondary assist.

That lead lasted for 4:15 before Colorado scored to tie the game then ran off 4 goals to grab a 4-1 lead after 1 period. Boston College scored early in the 2nd period to make it 4-2 but Colorado scored 3 more goals for a 7-2 lead after 2 periods.

In the 3rd Boston College scored 2 goals to make the game look somewhat respectable but Colorado was just too much as Boston College ends their season with a disappointing 8-4 loss. In what many believe is Kreider's last game at Boston College the one assist to end his sophomore season 11-12-23 in 37 games.

We know we are in the minority but we will still stand with our belief that Kreider did not do enough this season to show he is ready to turn pro. From just 1 game winning goal to just 1 assist in 8 games against teams that made the NCAAs; we did not see the domination that we believe Kreider should have shown to earn the Ranger contract.

We still believe that Kreider will be a force for the Rangers but rushing him to the NHL is not worth it as witnessed by Michael Del Zotto. Let Kreider stay one more season and let this loss eat at him all summer to fuel his fire for next season.

Roman Horak (NYR 2009 5th) and his Chilliwack Bruins had to play against the Spokane Chiefs and the officials (or at least Horak had to think so the number of times he was bounced out of faceoffs) in game 1 of their series.  But honestly that the Bruins lost in overtime 3-2 was a miracle in itself.

The Chiefs fired 63 shots on Bruin goalie Lucas Gore who we have to wonder why nobody has offered him a contract. Really you are talking about someone who has carried the Bruins into the playoffs in a manner that Henrik Lundqvist would understand.

In Owen Sound, the answer to our question at least for one game was answered as Scott Stajcer (NYR 2009 5th) did not dress as Owen Sound won their playoff game.

(Images: Thomas/OHL Images-Aaron Bell and Toews/Brandon Wheat Kings, McIlrath/Cory Kerr Photography)

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