Monday, April 9, 2012
Knowing when not to hit
Easter/Passover Sunday made for a relatively quiet day among New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects with only the OHL in action. Both local team's 2011 first-round picks were involved and the theme on Sunday could best be described as knowing when to let go.
For Ryan Strome (NYI 2011 1st) and Mitchell Theoret (NYI 2011 7th) what we are talking about is not retaliating when provoked. It is like one of the oldest principles of hockey where "the referee always misses the first hit but never the second hit."
In the case of Strome and Theoret, their Niagara IceDogs knew that the Brampton Battalion would be looking to get under their skin and trying to provoke them into taking penalties. You have to give credit to the IceDogs players who can "turn the other cheek" after being sucker punched.
In game two of their OHL Western Conference playoff series the IceDogs knew that they could not afford to give Brampton any extra power plays. It took a lot but in the end not fighting back became a key to Niagara's 3-1 win over the Battalion which gives Niagara a 2-0 series lead.
Both Strome and Theoret were held scoreless with Strome taking a high-sticking penalty but that was the only power-play that Brampton was able to get for the game. The series is going to be decided by the team that can best control their emotions and for Niagara it is an edge that is built upon last season's disappointing loss in the Western Conference finals.
Game three of the series will be played Tuesday in Niagara (St. Catherine's.
In Kitchener, JT Miller (NYR 2011 1st) and his Plymouth Whalers looked to rebound after losing game one of their OHL Eastern Conference playoff series with the Kitchener Rangers. With the use of an alternating format (1-1-1-1-1-1-1) home ice really doesn't come into play until game 7.
Still for Plymouth, they wanted to avoid a repeat of their first-round playoff series with the Guelph Storm where they dropped the first two games of the series. But after two periods of game 2, it was looking like Kitchener's goalie John Gibson was going to have his second straight shutout.
The difference in this game we would say was decision by Plymouth coach Mike Vellucci to go with 7 defensemen and only 11 forwards. That extra defender came in handy when Plymouth was stuck killing off 5 Kitchener power plays.
The game was decided in the third with Plymouth finally scoring a goal, on Gibson at the 3:24 mark to take a 1-0 lead but Plymouth struck again just a 1:06 later at 4:30 to make it 2-0.
JT Miller earned a secondary assist on this goal for his 8th point (2-6-8) of the playoffs. With Plymouth earning a 2-0 win they are heading back home with the series now at 1-1.
First we want to fix an error as reader Matt Lavanco was kind enough to point out that Boston College's Johnny Gaudreau is in fact a 2011 fourth round pick of the Calgary Flames.Thank you Matt for your help and to show our appreciation we've arranged for Matt to be part of the group trying to get an expansion team in Atlanta for the third time.
Chris Kreider and company have arrived back in Boston and according to the Sports Information Department of Boston College; there will be a celebration held at what is called O'Neill Plaza on on Tuesday at 5:30 PM.
Guess we have to repeat what we said yesterday and all among that Chris Kreider will not sign with the Rangers until he has completed his obligations to his teammates and coaches. That means at the earliest we don't expect Chris Kreider to begin open negotiations until after the Boston College celebration.
We also have serious doubts that the New York Rangers would anger the NHL front office by signing Kreider on the first day of the NHL playoffs. It is an unwritten rule/tradition that teams do not make moves that draw attention away from the playoffs.
But can we do one thing? Can we stop with this media whatever you want to call it that has the New York Rangers ready to pounce on Chris Kreider to get his signature? First of all, Glen Sather who is a hockey traditionalist who would never disrespect Boston College and their coach Jerry York by stalking Kreider.
Sather, Jeff Gordon, Chris Kreider and the rest would not do anything to ruin Boston College's celebration of their win. We all know it's a matter of time before Kreider signs and because of the NHL/NHLPA CBA that the majority of the terms and details were already decided.
And as somebody else pointed out, the Rangers wound up with 109 points without having Chris Kreider in the lineup. They could survive a little longer without him.
(Strome – Niagara IceDogs, Miller – Aaron Bell of OHL images)