Saturday, April 23, 2011

1000 Posts Later There Is Actual Hope

It does not seem like it has been that long since at the urging of Dubi Silverstein that we started this journey covering New York Ranger prospects. Yet here we are today at number 1000 and so much has changed since post number 1.

The best thing that we are seeing is that for the first time in years that Ranger fans (and Islander fans as well) believe that there is truly reason to have hope for tomorrow.  The sun is going to come up tomorrow and with it comes a much better future for the two franchises.

It is oh so very fitting that one of those who we say is going to be a big part of tomorrow Ryan Bourque showed why we have hope. With under 2 minutes remaining in regulation and his Quebec Remparts facing an overtime or even worse a 2nd loss on home ice, it was Ryan Bourque who scored at 18:32 to give the Remparts a 3-2 win over the Gatineau Olympiques.

Ryan Bourque who is part of what we call the "3 Amigos" (Bourque, Derek Stepan, and Chris Kreider) made yet another huge play in scoring his 5th playoff goal as the Remparts bounced back from dropping game 1 to even up their series as it switches to Gatineau.

It was Bourque and his linemates who picked up the Remparts when they were trailing the Olympiques 2-1 as the game was in the last 5 minutes of the game. First they tied it up at 15:21 then Bourque added his heroics to win it for the Remparts.
The Islanders have hope of their own in a player who one day will be their captain in Casey Cizikas of the Mississauga St. Micheals Majors. Like Bourque it was Cizikas who made the big play to help his team win a game they really could not afford to lose.

In overtime of Game 3 of their playoff series against Jason Wilson and his Niagara IceDogs; Cizikas made the big play starting the offensive rush and shot that led to linemate Justin Shugg cashing in a rebound to give the Majors a 3-2 come from behind win.

The IceDogs are going to look back at this game as one they should have won but Cizikas and his teammates are just so good defensively that their offense gets vastly underrated. The IceDogs built a 2-0 lead but as the game progressed Cizikas and Co. kept increasing the defensive pressure.

The win gives the Majors a 2-1 lead in the series and the series shifts back to Niagara for game 4 on Monday. Wilson was held scoreless and had 4 PIMs for his night.

In the other OHL conference final, Scott Stajcer got bailed out by his Owen Sound Attack teammates thanks to 2 third period power play goals as the Attack defeated the Windsor Spitfires 6-4 in game 3 of their series.

Stajcer did not look very good giving up 4 goals on just 21 shots and for a while we thought that he was going to get pulled. Stajcer appears to have come back to earth after a hot streak that saw him win his first 5 starts but a 6-1 1.80 goals against and a 0.923 save percentage not bad numbers either.

The Islanders have to be very happy with how Kirill Kabanov has played during the QMJHL playoffs. Kabanov and his Lewiston Maineaics earned their way to the QMJHL semi-finals against the Saint John Sea Dogs but after 2 games trail in the series 2-0.

The Maineaics just could not rebound from the overtime loss on Friday night as the Sea Dogs held the Maineaics to just 12 shots over the first 2 periods while jumping out to a 4-0 lead.

By the time Kabanov scored his 7th goal of the playoffs the outcome was long decided. It may have been a meaningless goal but it extended Kabanov's scoring streak to 10 games.

Kabanov is now 7-11-18 for the playoffs and we really have to like what we have seen coming out of him. It is a scary thought of the Islanders possibly being able to send out a future line of 6'3 Kabanov, 6'2 Nino Niederreiter and 6'3 Anders Lee.

Maybe that it part of the mindset that Gordie Clark saw when he took 6'5 Dylan McIlrath in the 2010 NHL draft.


1000 posts is not possible without the support of readers, the media relations people of the various prospect teams and the prospects themselves. Over the years the one lesson that we never forget is that the prospects are just as much fans of hockey as you the reader.

We have yet to meet a prospect who did not appreciate knowing that the Ranger or Islander fans wanted to see them make it. From Brandon Dubinsky to Scott Stajcer, wearing an NHL jersey is part of their life long dream.

Yes neither the Rangers or Islanders ended their seasons the way they wanted but we look at the prospects and do see the future is brighter for both. Mark our words that it will be sooner not later before we see the Rangers and Islanders facing each other in the playoffs.

Thank you for giving me 1000 reasons to love covering the prospects.

(Bourque/New York Rangers, Cizakas/Aaron Bell-OHL Images, Kabanov/NHL Media)

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