Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Happy to be proven wrong

Ryan Strome (OHL Images)
One thing I have learned the hard way over the years covering New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects is that there are going to be plenty of times when I wind up being wrong. There are also times when you are happy to be proven wrong and Monday night's game in the Subway Super Series was one of those moments.

I have watched Ryan Strome over the last 3 seasons and while there has never been any question about his skill set as a player. During the regular season, Strome was a scoring machine putting up great numbers and showing an impressive consistency to his game.

But Strome in my eyes just did not show up for the biggest of games especially in the OHL playoffs.

In 2011, Strome was rolling big time in the first 2 playoff rounds 6-4-10 against first Brampton and then Oshawa but in the conference finals was shut out and held to 2 assists. In that series, Mississauga kept a physical presence on Strome and rendered him ineffective.

Last year, Strome helped lead Niagara to the OHL finals going 7-14-21 over 3 series and you thought that this would be his trip to the Memorial Cup. Nope as in the OHL Finals; Strome was held to just 2 assists by London in 5 games.

To make matters worse; I said that Strome was the wrong player for the Islanders to use their 2011 1st round pick on that they should have used the number 5 pick in that draft on his teammate Dougie Hamilton. Hamilton to me was the best pick at that spot and because he is a very mobile dependable 2 way defenseman with size made him the better pick.

In my eyes, Strome just did not bring it in the biggest of games for his team(s) and until this season that was the case. What changed was Strome coming up big first against the Russians in the Canada-Russia Challenge where Strome's goal in overtime won the Challenge for Canada.

The other was Monday night again against the Russians only this time in the Subway Super Series. Russia entered game 4 of the series having already defeated Team OHL for the first time in the series.

Let's not kid ourselves when Canada and Russian face each other on the ice, there is never any "friendly" exhibition. And with Russia looking to sweep Team OHL for the first time ever in the Super Series someone had to come up big.

That person was Ryan Strome who scored Team OHL's first goal off a great give and go play with Matt Puempel. Strome also earned a secondary assist on Team OHL's 2nd goal as Team OHL tied the series up at 2-2 after a 2-1 win.

Strome deserved being named player of the game for Team OHL but I seriously have to question how Strome was not used by Steve Spott the coach of Team OHL. Strome and his linemate Brett Ritchie are the 2 hottest players in the OHL if not the CHL.

So why wasn't Strome used on the early power plays by Spott? Seriously the leading scorer in the OHL, the player who has 16 points in his last 5 games and you are not using him on your power plays?

Nice job there coach as I bet he was wondering why Team OHL went 0 for 6 on the power plays too? Still I don't mind saying that I was wrong about Strome but I want to see him do this when he is playing in the World Under-20 Championships and the OHL playoffs.

Adam Pelech was the other Islander representative playing for Team OHL but I think his injuries limited his playing time. Pelech has been playing on a bad hip and bad ankle but I am glad he got to play as he deserved the spot.

Next Up Team WHL

Ranger and Islander fans will get their chance to see a top prospect from each team playing in Game's 5+6 as the series shifts to the west. Michael St. Croix and Griffin Reinhart lead 5 other members of the Edmonton Oil Kings against the Russians.

No other team anywhere in the CHL had as many members from 1 single team and this is a well deserved honor. Catch the games on the NHL Network USA starting at 10 PM EDT/7 PM PDT.

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