Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thoughts on Belleville from February 19

Tonight the Belleville Bulls took on the Niagara Ice Dogs with the game being broadcast provincially on Sportsnet. The Dogs hung in there with the game tied at 1 through two periods, but the stronger Bulls came out on top thanks to three unanswered third period goals. The score would have been a lot higher than 4-1 had it not been for Dogs goaltender Jeremy Smith who was sensational in turning aside 44 of 47 shots.

Thoughts on some Belleville players...

Cory Tanaka - Overager and NHL free agent

Tanaka has to be one of the hardest working forwards in the league, and soon will become the OHL's all time leader in games played. Tanaka is such a good penalty killer, and was the main reason the Dogs were 0 for 4 on the powerplay. He anticipates the play so well and uses his speed to defend and knock away loose pucks. He scored a beauty shorthanded goal on a great breakaway pass from Eric Tangradi, with Tanaka finishing it off with a deke to the back hand. 5 on 5, he works hard, cycles the puck, drives to the net, hits open lanes. Just a solid overall player. That being said, I think that his hard work and hockey sense allow him to put up better numbers than his skill set would allow. He's such a good penalty killer that I'd be surprised if an NHL team didn't sign him this offseason, with hopes he turns into an energy line player.

Shawn Lalonde - Drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2008/68th

Lalonde is a solid player, no question. I've seen him play quite a few games over his OHL career. Today was not his best. He had a lot of trouble handling the puck and had a few near costly giveaways. He was just not a factor tonight. Clearly an anomaly.

Luke Judson - NHL Draft Eligible in 2009

Judson continues to impress me this season. He doesn't get a lot of ice time, but makes the most of what he does get. He works hard and is very aggressive on the forecheck. He plays a lot bigger than he looks and drives hard to the net, showing good strength with the puck. I think that he has the potential to be a good player in this league. I also think an NHL team would be smart to draft him with a late pick, as he'll look to make a bigger impact for Belleville next season with the departure of Tangradi, Cameron, Tanaka, Palmieri, and Mashinter.

Nick Palmieri - Drafted by the New Jersey Devils in 2007/79th

Palmieri was actually quite invisible for the first two periods. He wasn't as involved physically as he normally is. However, he made a great turnaround in the 3rd period and was a constant threat. He's so strong away from the puck, he comes away with the puck on his stick after nearly every scrum. In one instance, he knocked Dogs defenseman Reggie Traccitto through the air as they converged for a lose puck in Niagara's end. He's also got a great shot and does a good job getting into the scoring lanes. The only thing Palmieri needs to do is become more consistent. I've found in the past that he can tend to disappear for stretches, which shouldn't be happening because of the physical intangibles he brings to the game.

Bryan Cameron - Drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in 2007/82nd

Cameron is a beast. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. This guy is the most underrated player in the OHL. Over 40 goals last season, on pace for 40 over again this season and yet you never hear his name in discussion for the best goal scorers in the league. He's undersized, but it doesn't hurt him. He has great lower body strength and he's hard to knock off the puck, similar to former Barrie Colt star and current NHL'er Bryan Little. He attacks the crease with conviction and he works the cycle with Eric Tangradi like a work of art. Have I mentioned his wrist shot, which he gets off quickly and accurately. This guy is an NHL player, and you can take that to the bank.

Eric Tangradi - Drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in 2007/42nd

I'm not really sure what to say about Tangradi, that adds to what everyone already knows about him. He was absolutely dominant at both ends of the ice tonight. He works the cycle so well and he uses his size to his advantage. He has an NHL caliber shot and his skating has vastly improved over the course of his OHL career. I think the one thing that not a lot of people realize about Tangradi, is how good of a penalty killer he has become. Much like Tanaka, he anticipates the play so well and because he's so strong, he's able to win those loose puck battles and clear the zone. The guy is a stud.

Philipp Grubauer - NHL Draft Eligible in 2010

Grubauer got a start in place of Mike Murphy tonight, giving the all star a night off. Grubauer was quite good tonight. He wasn't tested a lot, but he made some really key saves in times that could have swung the momentum of the game. When his team needed him, he made the save. One in particular against Chris DeSousa was outstanding, where he did the splits on his arse to stop a redirected puck aimed at the bottom far side. He shows great lateral quickness and his rebound control has improved since the start of the season. I know Coach George Burnett thinks very highly of this German import and I think he's going to climb pretty high on draft lists next season as he takes the reigns from Murphy.

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