Expectations were high for Joel Bouchard and the Laval Rocket entering the 2019-2020 season and it didn’t start well. They lost their first three games and started the year 5-6 in October and many players were not performing to the level that was expected of them. However, with a couple of additions and returning players along with the positive reinforcement of head coach Joel Bouchard, the Rocket have looked much better in November and are on a remarkable track moving forward.

A Lot Of Positive

There is finally consistent play in nets. Who would have thought that the Rocket would be good when the organization’s best goalie prospect would be in between the pipes? Since being assigned the starting job instead of struggling netminder Charlie Lindgren, Cayden Primeau has been lights out and may end up representing the Laval Rocket at the AHL All-Star Game. As for his statistics thus far into the 2019-20 season, Primeau owns a 7-2-1 record, 2.08 GAA and a 0.926 SV%.

As well, he has only allowed 21 goals in those 10 games played. As well, he’s allowed over two goals three times and two goals and under seven times including a shutout. He’s been extremely consistent since the start of the 2019-20 season.

The defense is playing as a whole unit. The reinforcement of Noah Juulsen has helped the AHL’s Laval Rocket a lot as they recently lost Cale Fleury to the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens. Juulsen had been sidelined for a long time with headaches and the team did not want to take any risks since he does have a history of concussions.

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The additions of Josh Brook and Otto Leskinen have brought a puck mover to both the left and right sides. The return of Ouellett and Alzner have helped solidify the experience aspect. The return of Gustav Olofsson from injury adds to the chemistry for the whole defensive core.

Special teams have been tremendous for the Rocket so far this season. When the power play is firing at 18.2% and the penalty kill at 89.2%, something is going right. There seems to have been a message from the coaching staff to the players. Play as a unit.

Goal scoring has been a revelation for this roster in Laval so far. They currently sit in twelfth in the AHL with 62 goals. They don’t have a player above 10 goals with Charles Hudon currently sitting with nine. However, they do score by committee and that involves a good chunk of the players.

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The Negative

Riley Barber and Phil Varone have not been as implicated offensively as the team would have liked and Varone is currently injured, out with a wrist injury for the next six weeks. The injury was sustained on the 30th of October and he underwent surgery on November 15th to repair it. With that in mind, he will be sidelined for at least the league’s minimum which means the Rocket will have to start playing better and get involved a lot more, along with a couple others.

Charlie Lindgren has been up and down this year with a 4-4-2-0 record and in addition, is currently the backup to starting goaltender Cayden Primeau. The talent is there, but the consistency isn’t. To add to that, Michael McNiven has been impressive with the Thunder in the ECHL and has bounced around from affiliate to affiliate to sharpen his skills and get extra playing time.

So far, the team is playing great and it looks good when everyone is playing together. It’s easy to say that Joel Bouchard, head coach of the Rocket, gets the most of his players, but the fact that the Canadiens have a strong AHL team means a lot to player development and overall organizational success. Let’s hope this team success continues further into the regular season. So far, so good.

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