After a Saturday night where most New York Ranger prospects played like the Rangers did against the Edmonton Oilers; Sunday was a much better day but possibly a costly one.
At the beginning of October, we said that we wanted to keep an eye on JT Miller (NYR 2011 1st) because of the schedule his Plymouth Whalers were going to be play. Miller and the Whalers were going to play 2 sets of 3 games in 4 nights and 2 sets of 3 games in 2.5-3 days.
For us it was going to be a test of Miller's conditioning more than anything else because part of his development is dealing with these kinds of schedules and the travel associated with it. What we were not expecting was Miller's play especially on the 3rd game of each set.
On Sunday afternoon, Miller had his best game of the season going 2-2-4 +4 to help his Plymouth Whalers defeat the Mississauga St. Michaels Majors 8-4. Miller the game's first star was just flat out good especially considering his Whalers were shut out on Saturday night in Niagara then had to turn around and play an afternoon game in Mississauga.
Miller got his day and the Whalers going with his 5th goal of the season just 3:32 into the game to give the Whalers a 1-0 lead. Then in the 2nd period after Majors had scored twice to take the lead, Miller earn a secondary assist to help the Whalers tie the game at 2-2.
The Majors answered back to retake the lead at 3-2 but Miller set up Jamie Devane for the tying goal at 15:38 of the 2nd. In the 3rd with the score 6-4 in favor of the Whalers, Miller scored his 6th goal and 2nd of the game when he scored an empty net goal for the Whaler's 7th goal and ended any hope for the Majors.
Miller at least for the moment has taken over the Ranger prospect lead in goals (6) and tied for overall points (14) but what really has stood out is Miller has now played his best hockey in the 3rd game of the weekend sets for 2 straight weeks.
Last week it was a 2 goal game in the 3rd game and this week is 4 points in the 3 game. Coaches can teach you a lot of things but digging deep inside of you when you are bone tired and giving a super effort is not one of them.
To put it plainly, here was the player who the Rangers needed last night against the Oilers. Here is the player who after a tough loss, did not look at someone else to pick up the team; he went out and did it himself.
Outstanding effort by Miller.
Have to admit that Scott Stajcer ( NYR 2009 5th) had not helped his own cause but playing 2 weak games upon his return to Owen Sound from the Rangers. On Sunday Stajcer showed why we are so high on him even though his Owen Sound Attack lost in the shootout 2-1 to the Sudbury Wolves.
It was an impressive performance for Stajcer who stopped 28 out of 29 shots during regulation and overtime. Stajcer though gave up 2 goals on 3 shootout attempts for the shoot out loss.
But this was a 2nd straight strong performance in net for Stajcer who has lowered his numbers to the respectable ranges. His record may be 1-2-0-1 but the goals against is now 2.94 and save percentage is up to 0.901 which are not earth shattering but huge improvements .
Steven Fogarty (NYR 2011 3rd) joined the party as well as he had a career high 3 assists in helping his Penticton Vees win their 3rd straight game 6-3 over the Surrey Eagles in BCHL play. Fogarty was also playing his 3rd game in 2.5 days as the Vees improved to a BCHL best 10-2-0-1.
Fogarty improved to 5-7-12 on the season in 13 games. Got to acknowledge though that Forgarty has fallen into a pattern of good game then invisible game which he has to shake if he really plans on playing in the NHL with the Rangers.
Shane McColgan (2011 5th) recorded his 3rd goal of the season but his Kelowna Rockets lost to the Vancouver Giants 5-2 to fall to 2-7-1 in their last 10 games. McColgan has been the only bright spot for the Rockets as he has been on a 9 game scoring streak (3-8-11) but while McColgan has been consistent his team has not.
McColgan is tied with JT Miller for the Ranger prospect lead 3-11-14.
A bad weekend for Christian Thomas (NYR 2010 1st) got even worse on Sunday as his Oshawa Generals dropped a 7-6 decision to the Saginaw Spirit. Thomas scored his 5th goal of the season to extend his scoring streak to 5 games (2-5-7)
But it might be a few games before Thomas gets a shot at 6 games as Thomas was ejected at the 18:56 mark for a high sticking major. The penalty as we understand the OHL rules calls for an automatic 1 game suspension and OHL office review.
Since this will be Thomas's 2nd offense then we expect that at the least Thomas will get a 2 game suspension and worst case would be a 5 game ban. The OHL has made it clear that star or not they will suspend players who get major penalties.
Andrey Pedan (2011 3rd) was the lone New York Islander to see action on Sunday and while he earned 2nd star honors for a 1-1-2 effort; his Guelph Storm lost 4-3 to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 4-3.
Pedan is now 4-2-6 on the season with all points coming in his last 6 games.
The Mighty Thor AKA Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) had an assist to set a new career high in assists as his Baie-Comeau Drakkar continued to roll winning via the shoot out 5-4 over the Chicoutimi Sangueens.
If we were to name a prospect who is most improved then right now Noreau deserves serious consideration. While 0-6-6 +7 is not going to change the world; when you factor in that Noreau has gone from goon to starting defenseman then it is a very good start.
Noreau is one of the reasons why the Drakkar have gone from QMJHL cellar dwellers to the 2nd best record in the league at 11-4. Last season the Drakkar were 21-40-4-3 17th out of 18 teams with a goal differential of -110 (currently +30).
Finally the Peteborough Petes with Andrew Yogan (NYR 2010 3rd) and Pete Ceresnak (NYR 2011 6th) ended a nightmare of a weekend with a 4-0 loss on the road to the Brampton Battalion. The Petes who started the season with a 6-1-1-1 run has now dropped 4 straight.
Pretty sure Yogan is back in Coach Mike Pelino's dog house after he took a slashing penalty that led to a Brampton power play goal in the first period. Ceresnak was a -2 in this one as this very much was a lost weekend for the Petes.
The Round Table
We were asked to join and contribute to a Ranger discussion round table with some of the better known Ranger bloggers. For us it is an honor as these guys work just as hard as we do to cover the Rangers so please check it out.
The first posting of the round table is over at 5-Hole.com and we will highlight the blog /site that is hosting the round table during the season.
(Miller and Stajcer/OHL Images- Aaron Bell)
6 hours ago