Sunday, November 27, 2011

Under Pressure

The question is asked all the time by New York Ranger fans; what is wrong with Christian Thomas (NYR 2010 2nd) this season? We are pretty sure that Christian Thomas would like to know the answer to that as well.

It has been a very frustrating season so far for Thomas and his Oshawa Generals. First it was not the strongest of camps for Thomas and we think being cut early by the Rangers might have been a shock to his confidence.

It also does not help a prospect when Thomas got suspended for a play that we will argue did not warrant a 10 game suspension. Before you say "you like the kid" we will say go take a look at the video offered up by the OHL as the evidence against Thomas and you try to show us how one could say 10 games.

At best it would have been 2-3 games in any other league (especially when one considers our belief that the player who got high-sticked had knocked Thomas over to begin with.

But Oshawa's troubles go deeper starting from a lineup that has missed key players (only 3 players on roster have appeared in all 29 Oshawa games) to a defense that has given up the 3rd most goals in the OHL. Toss in a coaching change and honestly that after today's 4-1 loss to the Belleville Bulls then consider it a minor miracle that the Generals are only 11-14-1-3.

Thomas had the primary assist (his 7th of the season) on the General's only goal against the Bulls which came on the power play but that was the extent of the General's offense. One thing we do know is that the Generals do need Thomas to put up more than 1 point a game for them to have any chance of winning.

Thomas is 8-7-15 in 19 games and we know under the right circumstances that Thomas can still salvage this season and put up 40 goals in the remaining 39 games the Generals have left to play.

Maybe what Thomas and his Generals need is to copy what Andrey Pedan's (NYI 2011 3rd) Guelph Storm did after getting whipped 6-0 by the same Belleville Bulls the other night. The Storm held a "player's only" meeting with no coaches or anyone else but the players.

Whatever was said in that room worked as the Storm have won 2 straight since then including Sunday's 3-2 road win over the Mississauga St. Michaels Majors. We stopped measuring Pedan's production in terms of goals and assists but rather how many penalties he has taken.

Against the Major's, Pedan stayed out of the penalty box for just the 6th time this season (out of 21 games). It may seem petty but when you are one of the top pair defenders then you are not helping your team by spending time in the penalty box.

Pedan can be a good "stay at home" defender but he has to learn how to first become a good "stay out of the penalty" box player. If Pedan can do that then the Storm will be in much better shape.

Andrew Yogan (NYR 2010 3rd) is starting to show the signs of breaking out and for the overage center we really hope this time is the real deal. The game's third star, Yogan had a 2 assist game to extend his scoring streak to 4 games (3-3-6) but Yogan's Peterborough Petes lost on the road 6-3 to the Windsor Spitfires.

Yogan can call November a good month for him as he has gone 6-7-13 with points in 9 out of the 11 games he has played in. We really do want to see Yogan keep it up and earn that Ranger contract this year as adding a 6'3 center with offensive talent is always a good thing.

After some "ups and downs" Yogan has started to close the gap between himself and the other Ranger prospect scorers. It is not a stretch to project an overage center putting up at least 30 goals/65 points.

Yogan's teammate Peter Ceresnak (NYR 2011 6th) was scoreless for the 5th straight game and is showing us signs of hitting the "European wall." It is a very tough mental battle that not every European prospects wins.

Try being thousands of miles away from home, different culture, different hockey mindset, toss in scheduling that at times is insane even for North American kids and toss in some traveling too. For us it is not hitting the wall but rather how does Ceresnak climb over the wall and adjust to it?

Finally in the QMJHL, Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) and his Baie-Comeau Drakkar lost in overtime to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 4-3. It is a frustrating time for the Drakkar who have fallen on hard times dropping from 2nd in the "Q" all the way to 14th.

Noreau was scoreless on 3 shots but also registered 3 hits as if we could explain how a team that is one of the best in the QMJHL in defense has gone 3-6-1-0 in their last 10 we would.

But we can't and we can only scratch our heads trying to figure out how a talented team can not buy a win.

(Thomas- Aaron Bell- OHL Images)

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