Sunday, April 8, 2012

Be a champion

Saturday night was a very good night to be a New York Ranger prospect as the first of what is hoped to be a hat trick of champions was crowned. Chris Kreider (NYR 2009 1st) and his now NCAA champion Boston College Eagles left little doubt which was the best team in US Men's College Hockey.

Boston College won their 2nd championship in the last 3 years defeating Ferris State 4-1 in the finals of the Frozen Four. Kreider may not have scored but he was a very active player credited with 6 shots on goal as Boston College ends their season with a 19 game winning streak.

As we harped all season long, the more active Kreider was on offense then the better chance Boston College would have to win the game. It's hard to argue with black and white facts like these but when Kreider is active and skating that it creates space for his teammates.

So now the 2 biggest questions are when will Chris Kreider sign with the New York Rangers? And will the Rangers use Kreider in this year's NHL playoffs?

The first question we don't think is too hard to answer as the Chris Kreider we know is a class individual so we expect him to return back to Boston and take part in the celebration with his teammates. Chris Kreider is not the type of person who is going to ruin his team's celebration by turning the spotlight on himself.

Once all the celebrations are finished then we expect Kreider to make the signing official. It is going to be interesting to see how the New York Rangers handle this because Gary Bettman will not be happy if the focus is stolen away from the playoff games themselves.

If the Rangers want to stay with tradition then they don't sign Kreider until Thursday and allow the opening of the playoffs to get all the coverage. Of course it's really doubtful that any Ranger fan right now cares what the NHL front office thinks.

The second question is basically our gut feeling and that is the Rangers will not force-feed Chris Kreider to either the NHL or their system. Let Kreider go down to the CT Whale and play a few games with them.

If he plays well then you can call him up and if not then let him stay there and work on next season.

Kreider finished the season 23-22-45.

One thing we do want to say and that is we don't care how big Kreider's teammate Johnny Gaudreau is; when it comes time for the Rangers to use a first or second round pick and Gaudreau is sitting right there that it will be really hard to not use a draft pick on him. if you saw the game tonight and saw the goal that Gaudreau scored then you know what we are talking about.

That is one very special goal scorer who can do magical things with the puck on his stick and we don't care that he is just 5'6 150. If that young man was 6 foot then he would be seriously considered for the top pick in the draft; 44 points as a freshman and his 5 game-winning goals as well as his 7 power-play goals just so happened to be exactly the same numbers Kreider put up.

Steven Fogarty (NYR 2011 3rd) and his Penticton Vees took a step towards becoming the second New York Ranger prospect with the title on his resume after the Vees held off the Powell River Kings 2-1 to grab a 2-0 series lead in the Fred Page Cup.

Fogarty scored the game-winning goal on a controversial call as he slammed home a rebound from a shot from teammate Bryce Gervais as Gervais collided with Powell River goalie Sean Maguire. Fogarty had a wide-open net to score on once Maguire was out of the play.

The official call was that Maguire could have gotten up and try to make the save but we have to question the call especially a call that ultimately decided the game. We want to see Fogarty score and do well but it's more important that the integrity of the sport be maintained.

For Fogarty, it was his 4th goal of the playoffs and his 2nd game-winner. Overall Fogarty is 4-3-7 for the playoffs as the series shifts the Powell River for games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Dylan McIlrath (NYR 2010 1st) and his Moose Jaw Warriors took advantage of a Medicine Hat Tiger team that was missing their leading scorer Emerson Etem (Suspended pending hearing Monday) to defeat Medicine Hat 6-1 and take a 2-0 series lead.

The way Moose Jaw played defensively against Medicine Hat then we seriously doubt even with Emerson Etem in the lineup would've made any difference. Moose Jaw did a magnificent job shutting down Medicine Hat's offense.

Moose Jaw held Medicine Hat to just 15 shots for the entire game and using the forecheck was able to keep Medicine Hat from being able to get any kind of offensive flow.

McIlrath played a solid game earning a secondary assist on Moose Jaw's 4th goal of the game for his 4th assist (and point) of the playoffs. McIlrath also was a +4 for the evening.

We are a firm believer that you need good goaltending and strong team defense in order to win a championship; comparing Moose Jaw to Edmonton who was the Eastern conference champions then we believe Moose Jaw has a better chance of earning a trip to the WHL finals.

The series now shifts over to Medicine Hat for games 3 and 4 starting on Tuesday.

Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) and his Edmonton Oil Kings grabbed a 2-0 series lead after defeating the Brandon Wheat Kings 4-3 in game 2 of the WHL playoff series. The win was the 17th straight for the Oil Kings going back to the regular season (6 straight are playoff wins).

Now don't get us wrong we do want to see all Ranger prospects doing well but against the Wheat Kings we are not seeing dominant performances but rather just doing enough to win.

Against the Wheat Kings, it was a 4 goal 2nd period that turned out to be the difference maker. Both games so far could have gone Brandon's away and that is risky business if you're Edmonton.

And for us, it does become a concern when your leading scorer has gone 4 games without a goal and 3 games without a point. We believe Brandon is going to give Edmonton a much tougher fight than many people believe and if St. Croix doesn't start scoring, this could be a much longer series.

The series will resume with games 3 and 4 in Brandon Tuesday.

In the QMJHL, Kirill Kabanov (NYI 2010 3rd) and his Shawinigan Cataractes got the message after blowing game 1 of their series with the Chicoutimi Saguenéens. Kabanov and his teammates made sure there was no blown leads in game 2 after a 7-2 win that evened the series at 1-1.

Kabanov had 2 secondary assists on Shawinigan's 6th and 7th goals of the game to bring him to 3-7-10 in 6 games. While the points may not seem like they're coming at critical times for the Cataractes, what we are liking is Kabanov being more active in the offense.

Kabanov is taking on the average 3.5 shots a game but the key stat to us is scoring chances and that area Kabanov is 17 on 22 shots. Scoring chances open the door for rebound goals as well as the old adage they can't score if they are always on defense.

Games 3 and 4 will be in Chicoutimi starting on Tuesday.

We really hate saying this but Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) and his Baie-Comeau Drakkar would've been better off losing their first round match up. What was a stunning upset of the Victoriaville Tigre in the 1st round is turning into a total and complete slaughter in the second round at the hands of the Saint John Sea Dogs.

After losing game 1 9-3, game 2 was not much better for the Drakkar as they lost 10-2 to trail in the series 0-2. This series is not even competitive as the Drakkar just aren't even on the same planet as the Sea Dogs.

It was 5-0 before the Drakkar even got on the scoreboard and the Sea Dogs only needed 33 shots to score their 10 goals. What really concerns us was number of stick penalties in this game as the two teams combined for 8 separate slashing/high-sticking/hooking calls as well as 4 unsportsmanlike misconducts (leagues don't include misconducts in the PIMs which keeps that stat lower than should be).

Noreau got into a fight after Saint John scored their 6th goal and as soon as that fight was over another one started. Saint John went 5 for7 on their power plays and maybe if the Drakkar was better than 1 for 9 this might have been a game but we got it. The.

The series shifts to Baie-Comeau for the next 3 games (3rd game if necessary)

(Kreider - ESPN, Fogarty - Randy Emery, McIlrath - Moose Jaw Warriors)

No comments: