Someone forgot to tell several of the New York Ranger prospects that they had a game to play on Tuesday afternoon. That is OK because many of those who forgot to show up for the 4-3 2 OT loss to the Carolina Hurricane prospects also showed why their future is not going to be in a New York Ranger uniform.
On the surface there will be those who will say it was a meaningless game for the Ranger prospects and it is nothing to make a big deal over. Sorry but until someone's name is listed on an NHL roster then there is no such thing as a meaningless game for a prospect.
This one was a game that the Ranger prospects gave away as they should have blown the Hurricane prospects out of the rink in this one. The Hurricanes are not only the youngest team at Traverse City; they are also the team with the least overall talent.
You would not have known that judging from the score but for a number of the Ranger prospects, it was their own lack of experience that showed up. Dylan McIlrath let Jared Staal get under his skin and blew a coverage which became the Hurricane's first goal.
Christian Thomas made a costly mistake which directly led to the game winning goal for the Hurricanes. Both players well known for making smart choices on the ice made poor ones instead.
The Rangers may have out shot the Hurricanes during the regulation but once overtime started; it was all Hurricanes. They pressured, they took the game to the Ranger prospects and they forced the Rangers into repeated mistakes.
We can get the positives out of the way because there were not that many of them from this game. Tim Erixon for starters is going to make it very hard for the Rangers to find reasons to send him to the AHL.
Erixon's age says he is 20 but he sure plays with the poise and talent of an experienced veteran. What makes us just love watching Erixon is not the big plays but rather the smaller ones which show off his high level of hockey sense.
It may not seem like much but watch how Erixon does things the little things from like swapping sides with his partner at the point. Erixon always has his head up looking to make a play, you can see that he knows where his teammates are as well as how the defense is set up.
The only thing we have yet to see from Erixon is leading the attack on a break. With his natural smooth stride, we believe that Erixon would be a deadly weapon if he were to jump into the rush.
In fact the final against the Sabre prospects will be a very good test for Erixon as the Sabres are more physical as well as bigger overall up front. Erixon will have the edge in skating and he will need to use that rather than try to match check for check.
A prospect who has stood out for us has been 2011 5th round pick Samuel Noreau as he has quietly had a good steady tournament. Noreau has played in all 3 games and has not made any glaring mistakes.
Noreau has shown good positioning as well as poise in his own zone as the prospect who Gordie Clark said was a "project" is off to a good start. The one thing we do want to see from him is a willingness to take a shot (no shots in the 3 games) when he has the puck at the point.
Like Erixon, the Sabres will provide Noreau with a test as we will see if Noreau is as strong as he looks. Noreau in our eyes is going to be a key player if the Rangers are to win.
Because of the Sabre's size, the Rangers especially on defense will need to make up for their smaller forwards. We think Noreau could help his stock with a strong game here against the Sabres.
Got to give Jason Missiaen some credit as his defense let him down repeatedly but Missiaen kept the Rangers in the game. We can understand why they see Missiaen as a project and since it is only money then why not?
Missiaen showed better poise than he did in game 1 but his 6'8 size forces us to ask how will he be able to handle the faster pace of the NHL?
Shane McColgan the Ranger's other 2011 5th round pick again played well this time with a goal and an assist in the loss. McColgan has points in all 3 games but the way he and Christian Thomas have developed instant chemistry has been excellent.
As we have been mentioning, the Sabres size on the forwards is going to be a big factor in the final. McColgan has struggled with the bigger forwards in the past but the Rangers will need his scoring.
Against the Hurricanes our biggest gripe was that too many players in this game played like they do not realize they are blowing a chance to improve their standing with the Rangers. The best example of this has been Jyri Niemi who for reasons that escape us is not playing with any kind of fire or passion.
Blake Parlett, Sam Noreau and even Peter Ceresnak have in our eyes done more to help themselves than Niemi has. Niemi is not in any kind of position where he can say he has a clear path to the NHL.
Niemi has more talent than any of the 3 players we just listed but what he does not have is their drive or even we wonder the fire to become an NHL player. The Sabres will come after him on Wednesday so maybe getting pushed around might light a fire under him.
Michael St. Croix needs to relax and stop choking his stick as he has gotten scoring chances. St. Croix is now playing like he is scared to make a mistake which is guarantee that he will make a costly one.
Playing afraid to make mistakes in fact has hurt several players like Collin Bowman, Jason Wilson, Taylor Jordan and Kale Kerbashian. Jordan Hickmott would tease us with a good couple of shifts then fade out of sight for a period.
Got to admit that we have never been a fan of Ken Germander the coach and to be fair we will give him the benefit of the doubt that having TV cameras in the locker room would be unnerving. Going to say that because it seems that every time they have gone into the locker room, Germander has turned into a walking cliche machine.
It is important because Germander is supposed to be as the coach of the CT Whale a teacher too. We are not seeing the teaching part because unless the players are refusing to listen then too many are not making game to game improvements.
Toss away the cliche book coach as you are going up against Ron Rolston who is a teacher and a good one at that. Rolston comes to the Sabres from the USNTP program so right off the bat Rolston is going to know more about the American born Ranger prospects having coached them before.
Germander needs to kick the TV cameras out of the locker room for the finals and be a tactical coach. Prove us wrong coach as Rolston is going to outsmart you in every area of the game.
What we want to see out of Germander is his own fire and if need be throw a couple of things. The Ranger prospects are not the only ones being tested here as Germander himself is being evaluated too.
Coach please this is a one game championship so use the weapons you have which is the speed and skating of this roster. Please do not try to go cliche on them as here is where your being a leader is going to be a difference maker.
You were never a big player but you held your own against bigger players so inspire these kids coach.
The last time Scott Stajcer was on the ice with Nathan Lieuwen, Lieuwen came away with the win in the Memorial Cup. It was Owen Sound against Lieuwen's Kootenay Ice and this time Stajcer has a full roster in front of him.
For Stajcer this could be the biggest chance he gets as right now he needs play the game of his life. The last 2 years just as it seemed like Stajcer was going to make a break through something bad would happen.
Beating the Sabres just might become the catalyst that pushes Stajcer past Chad Johnson and Cam Talbot. We believe Stajcer is the better goalie prospect than either Chad Johnson or Cam Talbot.
Now Stajcer needs to prove that to himself on Wednesday.
Memo to Andrew Yogan-- if you have any dreams of not returning to the OHL this year then keep your game simple and keep attacking the net. You just could be the offensive weapon that helps the Rangers win.
(Erixon courtesy of DaveReginek/NHL)
2 hours ago