Saturday, April 7, 2012

Stranger Days and stranger nights

Come on if you were surprised that the NHL fined New York Ranger coach John Tortorella $20,000 while not even holding a hearing over the hit that Pittsburgh Penguins Brooks Orpik did to Rangers forward Derek Stepan; where have you been?

How sad that the NHL can't even see the damage it's has done to their own credibility when you have a team in the Pittsburgh Penguins that constantly finds itself involved in questionable incidents. If there is an ugly on ice incident the odds are good that one of the teams involved is going to be the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In the same week how can the NHL turn a blind eye when the Penguins are involved in an ugly incident with the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday then on Thursday with the Rangers? How is it that there is an almost universal agreement among those who cover the NHL (outside Pittsburgh of course) that at the very least the NHL needed to hold a hearing over to play.

Remember it was Pittsburgh that was involved with the New York Islanders last season that Mario called a "travesty? No the travesty is that Pittsburgh always winds up in the middle of these embarrassing incidents and the NHL turns a blind eye to where their biggest image problem is.

Something is wrong when one can be sitting in Oregon and 19 hours before it actually happens is able to predict exactly what will happen at NHL headquarters. It's not hard to do as for reasons we've never understood why going back to the days of Mario that the Penguins have been given preferential treatment.

Here's another prediction because the NHL doesn't apply their standards of behavior on an equal and even consistent basis that there will be an even worse incident involving the Pittsburgh Penguins. A player we fear will feel the need to take justice into his own hands thinking is protecting his own teammates and on that day hockey will lose.

A Strange Day In Playoff Land

The three leagues that make up the Canadian juniors along with the BCHL returned to action on Friday night with some rather interesting outcomes involving New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects.


Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) and his Baie-Comeau Drakkar may have pulled off a fantastic first round upset but the reward in the second round is having to play the defending Memorial Cup Champions, the Saint John Sea Dogs. Nothing against the Drakkar but it's going to be a miracle just to avoid being swept in 4 games.

The Sea Dogs got points from 11 different players as they cruised to a pretty easy 9-3 win in game one of their series. A 5 goal second period was all really Saint John needed to take a 1-0 series lead.

Noreau was scoreless, a -2 with just 1 shot and 1 hit. Game two will be Saturday night.

Kirill Kabanov (NYI 2010 3rd) for 51 minutes was walking away with our player of the night with a 1-3-4 performance for his Shawinigan Cataractes. The Cataractes were up 6-3 over the Chicoutimi Saguenéens and looking like they had game 1 in the bag.

The Chicoutimi Saguenéens scored 3 goals in a span of 2:45 to tie the game and force overtime where they scored the game-winning goal at 10:05 of the first overtime to earn a 7-6 win, a 1-0 series lead and more importantly stealing home ice advantage from the Cataractes.

Kabanov may have been the game's third star but he was on the ice when the Saguenéens scored three of their goals including the game-winner. Hard to reward somebody who scores four while giving back three in the same game.

Game two will be on Saturday night.


Ryan Strome (NYI 2011 1st) got his Niagara IceDogs going with their first goal of their series with the Brampton Battalion but Niagara wound up having to go to overtime in order to defeat the Battalion 2-1 in game one of their series. This was an excellent battle between two very good goaltenders; Matej Machovsky of Brampton and Mark Visentin of Niagara as they combined to stop 78 of the 81 shots they faced.

Strome has already equaled his last season's playoff goal output (6) in just 7 games (it took him 14 games last season). Teammate Mitchell Theoret (NYI 2011 7th) was scoreless in this one as the series shifts to Brampton for game 2 Sunday afternoon.

JT Miller (NYR 2011 1st) and his Plymouth Whalers could not figure out how to get a puck past is Kitchener Ranger goalie John Gibson after he stopped all 40 shots that he faced to lead Kitchener to a 2-0 win in game 1 of their series.

It wasn't like Plymouth play badly but rather they got beat by an excellent goaltender who had to help of a couple of posts especially late in the second period when Gibson stopped Miller's linemate Richard Rakell was set up perfectly by Miller.

Miller is going to have to step up in the series as he is the leading healthy scorer for Plymouth after it was announced that Plymouth have lost their leading scorer Stefan Noesen with a broken finger. Game 2 will be played Sunday evening in Kitchener.


Dylan McIlrath (NYR 2010 1st) and his Moose Jaw Warriors played a rather interesting game against the Medicine Hat Tigers in game one of their WHL second round playoff series. First Medicine Hat's leading scorer Emerson Etem was ejected barely three and half minutes into the game after been called for kneeing.

To make matters worse, Medicine Hat forgot to have somebody in the penalty box so when the penalty expired someone jumped off the Medicine Hat bench which under WHL rules is "illegal substitution" a bench minor. Moose Jaw wound up with a 7 minute power-play but they failed to capitalize.

40 seconds into the second period, a second Medicine Hat player was hit with another major penalty and also rejected giving Moose Jaw yet another five minute power-play which they also failed to take advantage of.

In all Moose Jaw had 12 minutes a power-play time that they failed to score on but they were able to score
2 goals at even strength and survived a last minute Medicine Hat power-play goal to win 2-1 to take a 1-0 lead in their series. McIlrath had a relatively quiet evening which considering everything else that was happening was a good thing.

Game 2 will be Saturday night.

Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) and his Edmonton Oil Kings were less error-prone than the Brandon Wheat Kings in earning a 2-1 win in game one of their WHL playoff series .Both teams very much showed the aftereffects of not having played for almost a week with Edmonton firing 47 shots against Brandon goalie Corbin Boes.

We hate using the term "feeling out" in the playoffs because after playing 72 regular season games you should know what you are capable of and force the other team to adapt to you. Michael St. Croix didn't play badly but he didn't play outstanding either.

We hope game 2 on Saturday night brings more excitement.

BCHL Finals

Steven Fogarty (NYR 2011 3rd) and his Penticton Vees hosted the Powell River Kings in game one of the Fred Page Cup which is what they call the BCHL Finals. For a change we got to see the Vees being really pressured as the Kings one could say dominated most of the game outshooting Penticton 43-28.

Penticton as they typically do jumped out to an early lead scoring the game's first 3 goals but after that were spending most of the time on their heels trying to hold off Powell River. Fogarty had a couple chances but could not make the best of him but his difference was again on the defensive end.

The more we watch him play defense the more we can see him fitting in with what John Tortorella wants to do. Penticton took game one 3-1 to earn a 1-0 series lead set now the challenge is to see if they can avoid losing game 2 which is what they have done in their previous two playoff series.

Game 2 will be Saturday night.

(John Tortorella - New York Rangers)

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