Monday, May 20, 2013

Should have seen this one coming

Shane McColgan (#9) (CHL/WHL/Steve Hiscock)
So much for all of us so-called "experts" as if you hear someone claiming they thought the Saskatoon Blades really had a chance to beat the Halifax Mooseheads on Sunday don't believe them. Odds are that only the team and their most diehard supporters thought the Blades would knock off the Mooseheads at the Memorial Cup.

But 5-2 says they sure did and this one win does a lot for the Blades and in many ways their deserving to host the event. The Blades and Saskatoon have taken much of a beating since they were awarded the right to host the Memorial Cup and the first couple of days haven't been all that smooth either. An anthem singer who badly botches the Star Spangled Banner and some weak attendance (this game was just 8934 for an arena that sits over 15000) didn't make things much better.

Saskatoon came into this game already 0-1 after losing to London on opening night and the critics were having a field day with the Blades having a 13 game postseason losing streak going back 3 years. The 5-2 win shuts that one down with authority and this win has to start with the Blades playing their game plan almost to perfection.

The Blades wanted to get that first goal of the game and they did as Matej Stransky pounced on a Shane McColgan (NYR 2011 5th) rebound at 12:11 of the first period to give the Blades a 1-0 lead. If this was a game of redemption then count McColgan in as Friday night the only thing anyone noticed about McColgan was getting crushed by London's MaX Domi on a hit.

McColgan played well, he won faceoffs, set up scoring chances for his teammates and let the game come to him rather than try to force things. McColgan needed to be more visible on Sunday especially after a shaky opening night. The other Ranger prospect Josh Nicholls (2013 UFA) also had a strong game with another 2 point outing (1-1-2) to give him a 3-1-4 record after 2 games.

Nicholls has been making the Rangers look good for signing him by elevating his game against a very strong level of competition. Nicholls had a secondary assist on Saskatoon's 4th goal of the game which came on the power play in the 3rd period. Toss in the game sealing empty net goal and Nicholls has been much better than expected.

There is a slight concern about Nicholl's knee as he appeared to have tweaked it but gets 2 day off to rest it as the Blades don't play again until Wednesday night.

Next up will be the Portland/London game on Monday night as the Winterhawks find themselves now in an almost must win situation because of the Blades win. The Winterhawks don't want to get that 2nd loss which would put them into double elimination games on Wednesday and Thursday.

London will be wanting to win this one as 2 wins assures them of a spot in the semi-finals and also gives them a chance to earn a direct spot in the finals if they could also defeat Halifax. The possibilities are now endless thanks to a 5-2 win by the Blades.

No comments: