Saturday, May 26, 2012

Hold your head up high

Let's face it, nobody likes to lose and quite honestly, there's no difference as a New York Ranger fan losing in 1972 to the Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals or losing in 2012 to the New Jersey Devils.

It hurts and if it didn't hurt, then none of us would be as devoted to the team as we are. There will be plenty of time to talk about why things went wrong but for me on this Friday night I need to talk about the things that went right.

For starters, you guys and as the season went on how much you guys got behind the team and understood that there's going to be growing pains. You don't go from scrapping and fighting just to make the eight seed to winning the East and holding home ice advantage without struggling.

Yes, this is just the very beginning of the journey and it's going to be a good journey.

The team is much younger than it has been in years and more importantly this team is for the first time in decades it is more homegrown. There still is a work to be done but the foundation has been laid and now it's time to let the building grow.

We have a lot to be happy about and a lot to look forward to coming from the prospect side. The 2011-2012 New York Ranger prospect season was also the very best in decades.

How about the prospects?

Chris Kreider made the jump to the Rangers after winning a second NCAA championship. We can argue about whether or not it was worth burning a year off his entry-level contract all we want.

None of us, not me nor any of you will know for sure whether or not this was the right move until we see which direction Kreider's development takes. At the very least, we can all agree on one thing and that is Chris Kreider has à real future ahead of himself.

Michael St. Croix with his 45-60-105 regular-season, his 7-12-19 playoff and a WHL championship with the trip to the Memorial Cup. It may have been a bitter ending for Michael but like his team, he too is still growing and offers great promise for a guy who slipped to the fourth round.

Steven Fogarty, he may be the best Ranger prospect nobody ever heard of and while he is still set on attending Notre Dame; he was part of a championship team himself. Fogarty and his Penticton Vees won the BCHL, the Doyle Cup and the RBC Cup.

Eight years covering Ranger prospects and this is the first time ever that the Rangers had three different champions in the same year. They join a prospect pool that is getting better with each passing year.

This was the year where the Rangers had six Prospects put up 60 or more points. A first during the Glen Sather era and the best part was that most of the offense came from the 2012 class, meaning they're just gonna get even better.

Defensively sure Dylan McIlrath struggled a bit, but when they needed him most (Moose Jaw); McIlrath was awesome. And yes, he has a way to go before he becomes ready for Broadway but he's only 20.

There remains work still to be done and and I will not mislead anyone by saying there are some areas that require attention by the Rangers. But overall, this puts to bed the notion that the Ranger prospects are nothing more than a bunch of third liners and grinders.

You saw for yourself in Carl Hagelin and Chris Kreider that there is skill but as I have said all along there is more coming.

Don't nobody hold their heads low because 2011-2012 was to start of an awesome journey that is only going to get better in the next couple of years.

I am a Ranger and so are you.


Kabanov (77)- Terry Wilson CHL Images
Somebody forgot to tell Kirill Kabanov (NYI 2010 3rd) and his Shawinigan Cataractes that they weren't supposed to earn a trip to Sunday's final game in the 2012 Memorial Cup. All of history said that a team that didn't even make it out of their league's second round wasn't supposed to even get this far.

Shawinigan 7 Saint John 4 in the semifinal of the 2012 Memorial Cup; the Cataractes knocked off the defending Memorial Cup champions two days after suffering a decisive 4-1 loss to the same Saint John team.

The beauty of hockey, especially at the junior level is that you have to expect the unexpected. Shawinigan defeated the WHL champions the Edmonton Oil Kings in the tiebreaker game.

Now they defeat the QMJHL Champions to earn a chance at Memorial Cup history on Sunday when they face the OHL champion London Knights.

What an ironic ending to the most unusual Memorial Cup since they went to this round-robin format. How crazy was it that Shawinigan earned a ticket to the finals by defeating the two teams that they lost to during the round-robin.

Now they face the only team that they defeated during the round-robin on Sunday. Nobody's going to give Shawinigan a chance except their hometown fans who surprised everybody with their loudness and constant noise.

As for Kabanov, the image you see is Kabanov going down trying to block a shot; guess he didn't want to be left out of the craze. Kabanov actually was very active offensively credited with three good scoring chances on five shots.

We shall see Sunday in what will be the final game (expected) of Kabanov's junior career. Think he's done a pretty good for a guy that was supposedly heading to the KHL.

Think Islander fans can rest easy now as Kabanov can't wait to get back to Long Island and start getting ready for next season.


Islebback said...

Kabanov didn't get a point but was key on Shawinagan's 5th and game winning goal - he started the play by digging the puck out of the corner and getting it to the point, then was poking for the puck in front of the net when it went in.

Islebback said...

Kabanov didn't get a point but was key on Shawinagan's 5th and game winning goal - he started the play by digging the puck out of the corner and getting it to the point, then was poking for the puck in front of the net when it went in.