Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Duke reaches 40 goals in style

Anthony Duclair (QMJHL)
A light Thursday schedule was highlighted by the continuing story of Anthony (The Duke) Duclair, the New York Ranger's 3rd of their 3rd round picks in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. In what has been a mainly inconsistent season for Ranger prospects, Duclair has been the only bright spot as the forward for the Quebec Remparts has put together a career season with no signs of slowing down.

The Quebec Remparts were in Gatineau to face the Olympiques looking to extend their winning streak to 4 games and try to cut into current QMJHL leaders (and Telus East Division leading) Baie-Comeau Drakkar's lead. For 2 periods it did not look like the Remparts were going to do either as the Olympiques were keeping the Remparts in check and enjoyed a 2-1 lead early in the 3rd period.

That is when Duclair turned the game around with a 4 point (3-1-4) effort in the 3rd period to carry the Remparts to a 6-2 win. The game's first star, Duclair tied the game up with a power play goal at 6:39 and the goal was Duclair's 38th of the season and 12th power play goal.

Duclair would also be the one who broke the tie when he scored an even strength goal at 12:21 giving the Remparts a 3-2 lead and control of the game. The 39th goal of the season would stand as the game winner which was Duclair's 6th game winner.

Quebec would score 2 more goals (with Duclair earning a primary assist on one) to blow the game open and in the game's final minute, Duclair put the finishing touches with his 40th goal of the season, his 13th power play goal of the season and his 3rd hat trick of the season.

By the numbers Duclair is 40-31-71 on the season as he leads the QMJHL in goal scoring, Duclair is 4th in the QMJHL with 13 power play goals (and 9th in power play assists with 19), his 6 game winning goals are good for 6th and the only weak area in his game this season has been on the shootout where Duclair is 1 for 6.

Duclair finished the game 3-1-4 on a game high 9 shots (8 ruled "dangerous) and he was 0-1 on faceoffs. Duclair is on a pace to finish with 60 goals and 47 assists for a 107 point season. Not bad for the 80th pick in the 2013 draft.

At the opposite end of the stat sheet, sophomore Cristoval Nieves (NYR 2012 2nd) has had on very invisible season for the Michigan Wolverines center. A rare Thursday night game featured the 14th ranked Wolverines taking on arch-rival Michigan State.

Nieves found himself as the starting left wing rather than his normal 2nd line center. It has been a disappointing season for Nieves who was 8-21-29 as a freshman but has just a 1-7-8 in 19 games this season. Against the Spartans, Nieves was scoreless in Michigan's 2-1 win but at least took 3 shots which has been something that Nieves has not been doing.

Regardless of whether Nieves wants to be a playmaker or goalscorer, the key is going to be for him to become more active period. The more he shoots the better he increases his chances of either scoring or a teammate cashing in a rebound.

Jesse Graham (NYI 2012 6th) and his Saginaw Spirits were in action against the North Bay Battalion but the game was all North Bay as they had little trouble winning 5-1. Graham was scoreless for the Spirit who have lost 2 straight.

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