Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Two Headed Monster

There are times when watching New York Ranger or New York Islander prospects when you wonder which prospect is going to show up to play that night.

It gets even tougher for some prospects when the playoffs roll along because if a prospect can not bring his "A" game every night then how are you supposed to have confidence in his potential at the NHL level?

Win or lose the goal as a player has got to be a consistent performance in every single game. Win or lose a prospect has to play each game as if his future depends on it because most never realize it but their future does depend on it.

If you do not give your coach a reason to have confidence in you then he is not going to trust you in the crunch situations. And it is those situations that could be the difference between being a sure fire first round pick or falling to the third round.

It was a lesson that Kirill Kabanov (NYI 2010 3rd) has had to learn the hard way as there is no question that on sheer talent alone, Kabanov is as advertised a world class talent. But the hardest thing to shed in the hockey world is a bad reputation which is another lesson sadly Kabanov is also learning.

It is in it's own way poetic justice that Kabanov is getting to play against his former team the Moncton Wildcats in the first round of the QMJHL playoffs. Kabanov so far since joining the Lewiston MAINEaics has not done anything to get himself into the doghouse like he did with Moncton.

On Wednesday night Kabanov was the kind of problem that you like to have as he just might have played his best game as the MAINEaics defeated the Wildcats 4-3 in overtime to take a 3-1 series lead. Kabanov with a goal and 2 assists was very deserving of a "star of the game" but pretty sure Moncton was not going to give him one.

(Double Stick Tap to the folks at Buzzing the Net for wondering why Kabanov was not given a star either)

Kabanov got the MAINEaics going when he fed Pierre-Olivier Morin for a goal at 3:38 of the first period. Kabanov himself made it 2-0 at 16:38 when he showed off both his speed and slight of hand as he deked Moncton's goalie Brandon Thibeau out of position then swept around the goal and stuffed in for his first of the playoffs.

Moncton rallied to tie the score in the 3rd period 2-2 when Kabanov earned his 3rd point of the game as he fed linemate Etienne Brodeur for a goal at 10:58 and a 3-2 lead. It was not a perfect night for Kabanov as he took a slashing penalty at 14:17 of the 3rd that indirectly led to a second penalty while killing off the Kabanov call.

The resulting 5 on 3 led to the tying goal in regulation and sent the game into overtime. But it was Kabanov and his linemates who scored all of Lewiston's 4 goals as the MAINEaics are headed home on Friday with a chance to eliminate Moncton.

Kabanov's line was 1-2-3 +3, 5 shots and 4 PIMs.

Newly signed Ryan Bourque (NYR 2009 3rd) earned the game's third star with a 1-1-2 night as his Quebec Remparts eliminated the Val-d Ors in a 4 game sweep becoming the first Ranger prospect to advance in the 2011 playoffs.

Bourque's first goal of the playoffs at 12:06 of the 1st period broke a 1-1 tie and the Remparts were on their way. In the second period it was Bourque setting up linemate Frederick Roy at 8:04 for a power play goal and a 3-1 Quebec lead.

Bourque improves to 1-5-6 in the playoffs and now Quebec gets to wait to see who they face. Right now we are projecting if things hold up the 3rd seeded Remparts will take on the Shawinigan Cataractes.

Nino Niederreiter (NYI 2010 1st) registered his 3rd goal of the playoffs then added his 4th assist for good measure as his Portland Winterhawks held off a pesky Everett Silvertips team to take a commanding 3-0 lead in their WHL series.

Niederreiter and his linemates Brad Ross and Ryan Johansen combined for 3 goals and 2 assists as the "4 letter word" line continued to overwhelm the Silvertips with 8 goals and 9 assists.

It was typical Niederreiter as his goal tied the game at 17:14 of the 2nd period and put the Silvertips on the verge of elimination. Game 4 will be on Thursday night in Everett as Portland goes for the sweep.

In Moose Jaw, the two headed monster reared's ugly head as Dylan McIlrath (NYR 2010 1st) and his Moose Jaw Warriors followed up a good effort by forgetting to show up in the next game. The Kootenay Ice took advantage to earn a dominating 5-0 win to tie the series up at 2-2 and regain home ice advantage.

It is a shame to see an effort like this from Moose Jaw especially the night after an almost perfect game. Not to mention the pattern of Moose Jaw being their own worst enemy as they took 59 PIMs on 16 penalties.

McIlrath took a charging penalty at 19:43 of the 3rd that he really should not have. It is calls like that stick in the ref's head during a series and they cost you the benefit of the doubt down the road. Game 5 will be in Kootenay on Friday night.

OK here is where we are going to be totally honest with everyone as at the end of 2 periods up in Spokane it was 3-0 Spokane. The Chiefs had a 45-13 shot advantage and were going to start the 3rd period on the power play.

So after what we had witnessed in game's 1 and 2 played in Chilliwack that in game 3 there was no reason to think that the Chilliwack Bruins had a snowball's chance in hell. With that we concentrated on the Winterhawk/Silvertip game as that game did not have the makings of a massacre.

After all the bigger Chilliwack story was that they were packing their bags and moving to Victoria. In case you do not remember but Glen Sather and Brian Burke both own pieces in the Bruins.

So with all that you know of course that we missed out on the Bruins shocking the Spokane Chiefs and their fans with 4 unanswered goals to win the game 4-3 in overtime. Roman Horak's first point of the WHL playoffs got the Bruins going when he set up Ryan Howse for the Bruin's 1st goal of the game at 3:04 of the 3rd.

The Bruins despite being totally outplayed and dominated in every area of the game now trail just 2-1 in the series with game 4 on Thursday.

In Erie, Andrew Yogan (NYR 2010 3rd) was a healthy scratch as his Erie Otters lost to the Windsor Spitfires 7-4 and is now down 3-1 to the Spitfires in the series.  Game 5 will be on Friday in Windsor and here we are pretty safe in saying that Windsor is going to close out the series.


In case you missed it Matt Donovan (NYI 2008 4th) has decided to leave Denver and sign with the Islanders. Donovan who just finished his sophomore season with Denver is coming off a 9-23-32 season. 

To be honest we like this signing better than we did the Aaron Ness signing as Donovan is going to give the Islanders a 2nd young offensive threat from the point. The Islanders are going from a team that had a very weak blueline to putting together the makings of a solid core in Donovan, Hammonic, de Haan, and DeHart. 

Now only if the Islanders would should enough patience to let their kids develop.

(Images: Kabanov/NHL Media, Bourque/Katherine Ep, Niederreiter/Portland Winterhawks, Horak/Chilliwack Bruins)

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