Last night i bypassed my Friday night Knights game and proceeded to the Kitchener Auditorium where there were 4 legitimate first round picks playing with a 5th one on the outside ready to look in. Those would be Ryan Strome, Dougie Hamilton, Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan Murphy with Tobias Rieder looking to move up.
The game was a lot closer than the 4-1 score indicated (empty net goal) with special teams playing the major role. 5 0n 5 was basically a wash.
Of the four, Landeskog produced offensively with 2 goals and 1 assist and was a plus 2. His linemate, Jason Akeson scored once and added 3 assists. Landeskog was again solid all over the ice, but it wasn't his best game of the season.
Tobias Reider was quiet all night and other than a couple of nice assaults going to the net was virtually invisible.
Dougie Hamilton didn't impress last night either.He went pointless and a couple of noticeable mistakes left him a minus 1 on the night while on two other occasions his goaltender had to bail him out. While i still consider him a legitimate first round pick, some have him climbing, but i have him dropping slightly. He hasn't played his best in the last couple of games I've seen him.
The interesting battle was between the OHL's leading scorer Ryan Strome and the guy people still say can't play defense, Ryan Murphy. Right from the opening faceoff, Murphy was on the ice every time Strome was on the ice, many times just shadowing him. There were times that Murphy would just go out to his blue line and just stand in front of Strome.
Strome did however assist on Niagara's lone goal on the power play and finished the night minus 1 but was otherwise unnoticed most of the night. Murphy also only had 1 assist, also on the power play and finished the night a plus 1. He was his usual self rushing the puck up the ice and making unbelievable tape to tape break out passes.
I remember watching an all star defenseman named Ray Bourque eat up minutes during a game. I don't think there was anyone in the game that could pace himself on the ice like Bourque did. Enter Ryan Murphy. The Rangers were on the powerplay when a minute into it they took another penalty to go down 2 men. Murphy had been on the ice the whole powerplay to that time. He assisted on the Rangers PP goal and stayed on for the remainder of the powerplay.
That shift lasted an amazing 3:17 seconds and if it wasn't for Ice Dogs goalie Mark Visentin, Murphy would have had a couple of more points there. He finally went to the bench but when Ryan Strome came over the bench 20 seconds later, Murphy was out there again for another 1:23. He's worked hard on his defense this season and has a willingness to learn. And after shutting down Strome last night, shift for shift, I'm convinced he can play defense with the best of them.