April 18, 2011
Question: if Kirill Kabanov is evolving into some no-nonsense, totally nails playoff performer, does that mean BTN can no longer trade on the image he built up during his first year in North America? Of course not. The Chatravaganza would not be what it is without, "PEANUTS!" That is something you go the wall to keep, really. Nevertheless, the spirit of being a good sport demands highlighting that the New York Islanders prospect is having a great playoff run with the QMJHL's Lewiston Maineiacs, whom Kabanov has helped lead to their first semifinal berth since their championship season in 2007.
A teenaged talent finally playing to something close to his vast potential isn't a redemption story, per se. Stilll, it shows the Islanders, the one maverick franchise which was willing to take on Kabanov, baggage real and perceived, in 2010, might have something. As Jess Rubenstein chronicled Sunday night:
All of you who expected that Kirill Kabanov would be the best Islander prospect during the CHL playoffs can stop fibbing as nobody would believe you.
Even when we wrote that for the Maineaics to advance against the Montreal Junior that Kabanov needed to step up; we never did we expect him to play like this. Kabanov with two secondary assists helped his Lewiston Maineaics finish off their upset of second-seeded Montreal with a 6-3 win to take the series 4-2.
While the Islanders are patting themselves on the back for using a third-round pick on Kabanov, we have to say we are sold on his change as being real. Kabanov with the 2 assists now has an 8 game scoring streak with 5 straight being multiple point games.
At 5-11-16, Kabanov has lifted himself from out of nowhere to 16th then 11th and now to 8th in the QMJHL and the Maineaics now are advancing to the QMJHL semi-finals against the Saint John Sea Dogs. The Maineaic are not supposed to have gotten this far, not this season but you know if Kabanov can find one more gear in his game you just never know. (The Prospect Park)
With all that being said, one hopes Kabanov has still retained the ability to be a card. If he can mix being a character with showing character, well, we may have something here. The Maineiacs and coach J.F. Houle certainly have over the past month, including Sunday, when a Kabanov setup gave them control of the eventual 6-3 series clincher over Montreal.
Kirill Kabanov threaded a perfect pass to Morin on a 2-on-2 at the other end, and Morin tipped the puck through Berube to reestablish the Maineiacs' one-goal advantage.
"A couple of times this series, we scored right after they scored," Houle said. "It really, really kills their momentum. That was a key goal." (Lewiston Sun Journal)
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (photo: Getty Images).