Sunday, May 13, 2012

An almost perfect evening

It was an almost perfect evening for the New York Ranger universe as the Rangers defeated the Washington Capitals 2-1 in game seven to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The remaining two New York Ranger prospects were in action on Saturday night with both playing well but only one came away with a win (but both get to play on Sunday).

It was really ironic that Michael Del Zotto wound up scored the series winning goal against the Capitals. Washington coach Dale Hunter once traded for Del Zotto while he was coaching in the OHL and we remember him saying that "here was an excellent young defenseman."

(Adding to the irony is that 2010 second round pick Christian Thomas was part of that trade as he was the player that Del Zotto's former team wanted in return.)

Say what you wish about Dale Hunter but he did a lot to help Michael Del Zotto in the short time that he got to coach him. Hunter was not happy with the Rangers when they kept Del Zotto as he correctly called that Del Zotto's defense was not NHL ready.

Still Michael Del Zotto, the road back to the Rangers was never easy and yes he still makes mistakes but people forget that he doesn't even turn 23 until June 24.

We will hold to our belief that John Tortorella needs to let Del Zotto off his leash and let him do what he does best. The Rangers did not draft Michael Del Zotto to be a defensive stopper; they drafted him to make plays like the one he made against the Capitals in the third period.

And we have to give credit to the NBC announcing team for showing exactly how Del Zotto jumped in and made the play that turned out to be the one that won the series. Michael Del Zotto is at his best when he's allowed to skate and that he's allowed to attack because his offensive instincts are what make him the player he is.

Del Zotto read the play perfectly as he knocked over Alex Ovechkin and saw that there was an open spot on the ice for you to jump to and the rest you know. For Gordie Clark the Rangers Director Of Player Personnel, he gets to look at us and smile while he tells us "In Gordie you should trust."

Del Zotto with the goal and an assist on the Rangers first goal has pretty much guaranteed that the Rangers will qualify at the end of the season. Michael Del Zotto has earned that contract.

Carl Hagelin with two assists doing what we got to watch him do for four seasons at Michigan. Everybody raves about Hagelin's speed but let us not forget that he knows how to pass too.

What a perfect pass to Brad Richards on the first goal; that is Carl Hagelin the Primetime player. And there is not a word that we can add about Henrik Lundqvist and his performance especially in the second period.

And if you're wondering why you're not going to see any praise for John Tortorella here? The answer is simple, Tortorella almost lost the series with his constant line shuffling.

Now it's on to face New Jersey and all the "experts" were going to tell you a billion times that no team has ever won the Stanley Cup after going seven games in their first two rounds. First time for everything folks; all we know is that eight more wins and it is time for a parade.


Steven Fogarty (2011 3rd) and his Penticton Vees got off to a very rough start at the RBC Cup in Humboldt Saskatchewan. They lost their first two games of the tournament but rallied to win their last two of the round-robin to earn the second seed in the semifinals.

It paid off on Saturday when the Vees avenged their first loss of the tournament shutting out the Soo Thunderbirds 3-0. The win puts the Vees into Sunday's championship final against the Woodstock Slammers.

It was the Slammers who the Vees defeated on Tuesday 2-1 to earn their first victory of the tournament so it is good be interesting to see if the Vees can defeat them a second time.

Fogarty was scoreless but as he has been throughout the tournament a key part of the Vees penalty kill unit helping to hold the Thunderbirds to an 0 for 5 on their power plays.

It's been quite the year for the prospect the Rangers used the 3rd round pick that they received from St. Louis in the Grachev trade. Fogarty and his teammates had a great season running away with the BCHL championship, then qualified for this tournament by winning the Doyle Cup.

A win Sunday and Penticton becomes the Canadian National Junior "A" champions.


Michael St. Croix (2011 4th) of the Edmonton Oil Kings had a very bad game in game 5 of the WHL Finals against the Portland Winterhawks. It hasn't exactly been the strongest of performances from the leading scorer among Ranger prospects.

No goals in the first five games of the finals but once again have to give serious credit to Edmonton coach Derek Laxdal who's stock is very much on the rise. Laxdal sent a message to his leading scorer that he still believed in him by starting him on the very first shift.

And give credit to Michael St. Croix for responding as he got Edmonton going with his first goal of the finals. It was a showcase of St Croix's offensive talents. In the first period, St. Croix took a feed from Tyler Maxwell right at the left face-off circle deked between two Winterhawk players then used a third for a screen as he beat Winterhawk goalie Mac Carruth over is left shoulder for a pretty goal.

St. Croix had the jump in his legs as well as showed us the player who put up 105 points during the regular season. Unfortunately St. Croix's efforts did not lead to in Edmonton win as Portland rallied to earn a hard-fought 3-2 win to force a game seven in Edmonton on Sunday evening.

This is been a wonderfully played series as two teams going to blow for blow with each other that it's only fitting that it goes to the seventh game. For the winner, the WHL championship and a trip to the Memorial Cup.

Game seven will start at 8 PM Eastern time/ 5 PM Pacific and if you can find a TV that carries Root Sports Northwest you won't want to miss this game.

(Del Zotto- New York Rangers, Steven Forgarty- NHL media, Michael St, Croix- Edmonton Oil Kings)

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