Friday, May 25, 2012

In The End

Kirill Kabanov (77)- Terry Wilson/CHL Images
It came down to one New York Islander prospect leading his team against one New York Ranger prospect and his team at the tiebreaker game of the 2012 Memorial Cup.

Kirill Kabanov (NYI 2010 3rd) led his Shawinigan Cataractes to a pretty easy 6-1 win over Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) and his Edmonton Oil Kings. Kabanov earned the first star of the night from our friends over at Buzzing The Net after a 1-1-2 performance.

The first three games Shawinigan played in this tournament were relatively peanut-free, but New York Islanders' pick Kirill Kabanov stepped up in a big way Thursday night, or at least got rewarded for his previous hard work. The Cataractes kept their season alive with a convincing 6-1 win over the Edmonton Oil Kings in the tiebreaker and will take on Saint John tomorrow in a rematch of Wednesday's emotion-filled affair.

We wouldn't be at this point, likely, if the bounces finally didn't start going Kabanov's way. He out-worked Edmonton's Martin Gernat on the first Shawinigan goal, getting the puck back to Brandon Gormley whose attempt, as has been a theme all tourney, found the back of the net. That was Kabanov's third assist on the tournament.

Then, in one of those strange "only in hockey" moments, Kabanov, who has had chance after chance simply fired a high shot off the back wall, which bounced off Laurent Brossoit and just crossed the line.

"It's sometimes disappointing, but a goal is a goal," said Kabanov about the odd bounce. Had he ever scored like that before? "No. It was kind of funny though."

Kabanov worked hard and deserved the praise that he received for his efforts because he was key to Shawinigan rolling all over Edmonton. But fair warning to Kabanov, the win earns them a rematch against Saint John on Friday just two days after the two teams kind of embarrassed themselves with some poor sportsmanship and dirty play.

Kabanov is going to need to repeat his performance of Thursday night for Shawinigan to finally get Saint John's number and earn a spot in the finals on Sunday.

As well as Kabanov played, unfortunately for Edmonton, Michael St. Croix as he has not only during this tournament, but the WHL Finals struggled big time when his team needed him.

I really do like Michael as he does give the Rangers some badly needed offensive skill but honestly, there will be questions asked about Michael St. Croix ability to deliver in the big games.

It was a frustrating tournament for Edmonton and nobody is going to make any excuses for them. If anything, I come away from watching Edmonton this year with the realization that this team is not going away and it was a very young, inexperienced team that found their way to the Memorial Cup.

Next year the Memorial Cup will be played in Saskatoon and hopefully a year wiser, a year older and hopefully a year smarter will aid St. Croix and his teammates.

Don't get me wrong, despite losing in the Memorial Cup; Michael St. Croix helped contribute to the very best year from New York Ranger prospects during the Glen Sather era.

Michael St. Croix was a nice surprise and I believe that we will see a lot more out of him next season. In any case Michael St. Croix and the Ranger prospects should hold their heads up high after the season they had.

They will be back.


I like Ryan Callahan really do almost as much as I dislike John Tortorella but I got a message for both of them; don't think for a moment that May 25th 1994 is not important to your team. 1994 is important to your team as 1940 and every other year that a New York Ranger team took to the ice.

"I am a Ranger" isn't about words but the pride, the tradition, and the relationship that this team has with its fans. They are not mere words but a symbol of a relationship that has been built up over 86 years, so please understand that rather than run from it, embrace May 25, 1994.

And the thing that really bugs me is the belief that the team doesn't need somebody to stand up. Oh yes they do they need the 12 forwards, the 6 defensemen and one Henrik Lundqvist to stand up in game six. This is a big game and big games demand that somebody, anybody stands up and puts the team on his back to carry them to a win.

See that's the message that over time has gotten lost among the New York Ranger players. It wasn't that Mark Messier guaranteed victory, but rather when the team so desperately needed it the most; Messier picked the team up, Messier put the team on his back and Messier led them to victory.

It's not the words but the deeds and that isn't about legends, but rather about being able to look across the locker room, look your teammates in the eye and know that you got their best effort. You also have to be able to look your teammates in the eye and they should know that they got your best effort.

Stop telling the world what a great group of guys you have in that locker room, show us that with your actions and give us one game, one entire game with 60 minutes of effort. If you're going to lose then at the very least, you as a team owe us as fans your very best effort.

Live the words "I am a Ranger"

No comments: