When your season is down to less than 10 games then you really can't afford to leave a single point on the table regardless of if you are a New York Ranger or a New York Islander prospect. If you don't bring everything you have to every shift, to every period, and to every game then odds are very good that by the middle of March you are packing your bags to head home.
The time of being nice, to being diplomatic and showing optimism is over because really what else has to be said? We don't care if you win or you lose as long as you show up and give us everything.
Like the Red Deer Rebels did on Wednesday night as realistically they are not going to make the WHL playoffs. But that doesn't mean they are not going to show us the meaning of heart. John Persson (NYI 2011 5th) and company were in Regina to face the Pats on Wednesday night.
The Rebels only dressed 14 skaters which is 4 below what a team is entitled to dress. On the road, short 4 players and trailing in the standings by 10 points, the Rebels could have mailed in theirveffort or by all rights should have been blown totally out of the game.
Somebody forgot to tell the Rebels that as they somehow found a way to defeat the Pats 3-2. Persson was scoreless but his teammates made up for it as their playoff hopes remained alive for yet another day.
Hockey can be so strange at times as here you are watching a team to overcome major adversity while others leave you shaking your head wondering what just happened.
In the QMJHL, Baie-Comeau Drakkar played what might've been the mother of all stinkers as they lost to the Québec Remparts 9-2. The Remparts scored 7 times over a 7:30 span in the 2nd period and they could've done much more damage in the 3rd period had they wanted to.
Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) was a -2 with a minor for "delay of game" which gave Québec an extended 5 on 3 power-play which surprisingly they failed to score. We mention that because the two-man advantage came during the 7 goal outburst.
The only good for us at this game was an extended look at Mikhail Grigorenko of the Remparts who is expected to go either 1st or 2nd in the 2012 NHL entry draft. Our 4th look at him and it has not changed our mind that Nail Yakupov of Sarnia in the OHL deserves to go 1st.
Speaking of the OHL, Scott Stajcer (NYR 2009 5th) was given the start for the Owen Sound Attack as they hosted the Barrie Colts but came up on the short end of the score 3-1. Stajcer gave up 2 goals on 22 shotshim him him as his teammates to quote Attack coach Greg Ireland "had too many passengers tonight."
Ranger fans would call it the "Lundqvist Dependency" where Ranger players would take the night off and expect Henrik Lundqvist to carry the team and bail them out. That would be a fair description about what happened to Scott Stajcer tonight.
Stajcer deserved better but falls to10-8-3-3 with a 2.84 goals against and a 0.914 save percentage.
In Erie, Andrey Pedan (NYI 2011 3rd) and his Guelph Storm dropped a 3-2 shootout decision to the lowly Erie Otters. himThere is no excuse losing to a team that doesn't even have double-digit wins on the season especially when you are fighting for your playoff life as the Storm are
Pedan was too quiet tonight but he was not alone as his teammates had to fight just to earn the one point they did get with a flurry in the third. Pedan we just wish which show some serious consistency because if he did then you would be an outstanding player.
The loss leaves the Storm tied with Sault Ste. Marie for the 8th and final playoff spot in the OHL's Western Conference. The Storm hold the edge thanks to having 2 games in hand over Sault Ste. Marie.
Turning to the WHL, Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) had the primary assist on what turned out to be the game-winning goal as his Edmonton Oil Kings defeated the Kootenay Ice 3-1. St. Croix has been creeping closer and closer to the 100 point mark as the assist was his 57th on the season (new Edmonton Oil King record).
Overall St. Croix is 39-57-96 which is also a new record for the Oil Kings as the leading scorer for the Ranger prospects has dropped down to 8th in the WHL's scoring race.
In Victoria, Brendan Kichton (NYI 2011 5th) took advantage of the leap year to end his goalless drought at 9 games when he scored at 16:41 of the second period to give his Spokane Chiefs a 3-0 lead en route to a 6-1 win over the Victoria Royals.
Kichton also had a secondary assist on what turned out to be the game-winning goal. Kichton on the season is now 14-48-62 which still leads both the Islander prospects as well as WHL defensemen.
At this time of year we are also looking down the road towards the draft to see if we could find a couple sleepers for the middle to late rounds. Spokane happens to have a forward in his draft year who at the beginning the season was more of an afterthought in terms of NHL potential.
But we wanted credit him for working hard and getting better as the season has gone by. The young forward's name is Liam Stewart and tonight Stewart scored 2 shorthanded goals to help Spokane win.
We keeping an eye on him all season long in part because he has a rather famous set of parents as in Rod Stewart the singer and Rachel Hunter the model turned actress. The best thng we like about young Stewart is that he is not using his well-known parents to get ahead.
Says a lot about him and his character.
Invite to the playoffs
Add Dylan McIlrath (NYR 2010 1st) and his Moose Jaw Warriors to list of teams who have clinched playoff spots. The Warriors actually earned it last night but the WHL did not update until Wednesday morning.
We do know one thing about the playoffs is that the WHL's Western Conference regular-season champions well have a Ranger prospect on the roster. Which one Dylan McIlrath or Michael St. Croix we might not know until the last game of the regular season.
5 days ago