First up was the return of Casey Cizikas (NYI 2009 4th) to the Mississauga St. Michaels Majors lineup; Cizikas had missed the first round of the OHL playoffs due to a serious arm injury that was supposed to keep him out longer than he was.
Cizikas with a goal and an assist earned the game's 3rd star as Mississauga scored the game's first 8 goals on their way to a 8-5 win in game 1of their series against the Sudbury Wolves.
His return to the Major lineup paid off almost instantly as Cizikas scored his first goal of the playoffs at 13:32 of the first period to give the Majors a 2-0 lead. Cizikas added his assist when he fed Devante Smith-Pelly for a second period goal which increased their lead to 4-0.
Strange how the Majors would give up only 3 goals during their entire series in the first round against Belleville would give up 5 goals in a span of 10:45. Once the Majors were up 8-0 they got sloppy at both ends and this game got closer than it ever should have been.
The Remparts scored the game's first 7 goals as they had no problem winning Game 1 of their series 8-1. Wonder if it is a message about next season as earlier in the day Shawinigan was named as the host of the 2012 Memorial Cup.
Bourque and company really rained on the Cataractes celebration as they scored 3 power play goals, 4 at even strength and to add insult to injury tossed in a shorthanded 1 as well.
Bourque scored his 2nd goal of the playoffs which in true Bourque fashion when he beat the buzzer at the end of the 2nd period at 19:59 which made the score 6-0.
Kabanov had an assist on Lewiston's 3rd goal but he took a costly penalty early in the 3rd period which killed off a Lewiston power play. Making it worse was that Montreal scored during the 4 on 4 which kickstarted them on their 3 goal rally.
Against the team with the 2nd best record in the QMJHL, Lewiston is going to have to learn to keep their foot on the gas pedal and keep attacking. Montreal is too good a team to allow any breathing room.
Two years in a row that the Ranger season is coming down to the final game of the season against a hated divisional rival. And in both cases it was the Rangers themselves who put themselves into the position where their entire season came down to one game or a single point.
How does a team that defeats Boston twice in 10 days and Philadelphia as well lose to the Senators, Islanders and Thrashers? Please spare me the Callahan injury as he was injured earlier in the season and the team had a winning record during his absence.
By Saturday evening the Rangers will have played 5 out of their last 9 games in the season against the teams who will finish the season holding down spots 11-15 in the Eastern Conference. Fail to win against the Devils and the Rangers will have gone 1-4 in that stretch.
Please if you want to say that this was a rebuilding year then sorry I disagree as when this season started only Derek Stepan and Michael Sauer were on the roster. Ryan McDonagh got his chance when Rozsival was hurt as did Zuccarello when Gaborik was.
And oh no if you think I am going to place the blame on this all on the shoulders of John Tortorella. It is not and I dislike Tortorella as the coach of the Ranger since before he was hired.
No what people really do need to look at is that no Ranger coach under Sather whether it was Low, Trottier, Renney or Tortorella has much input on his roster. If you go back to December when someone asked Tortorella if he was going to add a 7th defensemen and Tortorella said he was going to "ask Glen for one".
Close your eyes and go back 3 years and guess what? That is right it was a reporter asking Tom Renney that very same question and Renney giving that very same answer. Ranger fans are thinking about the Rangers going after Brad Richards during the off-season which begs the question "WHY?"
So Tortorella can turn Richards into a grinder as he has Gaborik and as how Tom Renney did with Jagr? Are you seeing the same nightmare repeating itself ala the movie "Groundhog Day"?
Really go back and look at Tom Tortorella or John Renney (yes done on purpose) and see if you can see any difference between what both coaches had to do to win. Both had to live on Henrik Lundqvist, both had to try to play grind it out and both tried to make superstar scorers into player they are not.
Either give John Tortorella the ability to remake the Rangers into his true offensive system of "Safe is Death" or fire Sather and install Schoenfeld as GM. It has to be either Tortorella's team or Sather's and after 12 years guess which one has to go?
(Images: Cizikas/OHL Images- Aaron Bell and Terry Wilson, Bourque/Katherine Ep, Kabanov/ Ron Morin/Lewiston MAINEaics)