When we say that the best part about doing this is getting to see tomorrow's New York Rangers and New York Islanders today we are not kidding. Saturday evening just reminded us about what the rivalry between the two teams used to be like and also told us that the rivalry is about to heat up once again.
There is nothing more intense than getting to face your most hated of rivals in the playoffs because either you get to end their season or they do yours. It is going to be a whole lot of fun watching the Rangers and Islanders going at it each other again but for now we will have to settle for the prospects facing each other in the CHL or NCAAs.
Ranger's First Star Dylan McIlrath
In many ways the biggest disappointment for us this season has been not getting to see Dylan McIlrath (NYR 2010 1st) right here on a regular basis this season. We say that because McIlrath is the physical intimidating defensive stopper the Rangers have lacked since Jeff Beukeboom was forced to retire.
So of course McIlrath earns his first star of the night because of his offense in leading his Moose Jaw Warriors to a 7-1 win over the Prince Albert Raiders. McIlrath had a goal as well as an assist to go along with a +3 in the regular season finale for the Warriors.
It's been a strange season as it is the McIlrath as he has had to adjust to the new rules about contact and in a couple of cases, his own large-size has gotten McIlrath in trouble especially when trying to defend against smaller players.
Against the Raiders, McIlrath scored his third goal of the season; a shorthanded goal as part of a six goal second period that buried the Raiders. It is very ironic that McIlrath would score his very first shorthanded goal in the WHL on the evening when he played his last regular-season game with the Warriors.
We won't kid anybody as McIlrath's job is to be the physical punishing defenseman who's going to allow players like Michael Del Zotto more freedom to go on the attack knowing that somebody is that there who can cover for his mistakes.
McIlrath along with Chris Kreider highlight an interesting Saturday evening where most of the Ranger prospects ended their regular season and found out who they would be facing in the playoffs. The rest of the Ranger story to be found right here.
Islander's Star Brock Nelson
The last couple of days people have been asking how could I consider Brock Nelson (NYI 2010 1st) to be possibly the best Islander prospect? Well the best response I can have is ask which Islander prospect led his team to the WCHA championship and the automatic invite to the NCAA?
That would be Brock Nelson who got North Dakota scoring what proved to be the championship winning goal in a 4-0 shutout win over Denver. Nelson's goal was the kind of goal that a guy on a hot streak scores as what should have been a blocked shot lands right at his feet with a wide-open empty net in front of him.
Why do we think Brock Nelson is the best Islander prospect? It might have something to do with how in a three-game in three night situation; Nelson scores the game-winning goal against St. Cloud, the game tying goal against Minnesota and then finally the championship winning goal against Denver.
That is what you want your best players to be doing under the biggest pressure situations especially considering how nobody thought North Dakota would even be where they are sitting today
Brock Nelson and North Dakota have won seven straight games now, winning the WCHA Final Five pushes them all the way up to fourth in the Pairwise rankings which gives them the number one seed in the Western regional starting next week.
North Dakota won't have to travel very far since the West regional will be played in the very same arena in Minneapolis that they just won the WCHA Final Five in. Wonder if anyone North Dakota misses JT Miller?
An interesting night once again for the Islander prospects and you will find that report right here.
Are They Ready To Rumble?
While we will get into the playoffs match-ups as well as the NCAA brackets tomorrow, there will be 2 matchups in the OHL's first round with Islander versus Ranger prospects in them. Both match-ups will feature the 2011 first-round picks for both teams.
Niagara and their 2 Islander prospects, Ryan Strome and Mitchell Theoret will be taking on Christian Thomas and his Oshawa Generals. JT Miller and his Plymouth Whalers will be taking on Andrey Pedan in the other one.
It will be very interesting to say the least
(McIlrath- Moose Jaw Warriors, Nelson - Bruce Kluckhohn)
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