The Rocket’s speed and atmosphere are causing problems for the Americans
There are many reasons that explain the Rocket’s 3-0 win in its series against the Rochester Americans.
Cayden Primeau’s performance allowed him to be named among the three stars in those two first games and will continue to be the talk of the town. The young goalie kept up his play from the first round with two identical games to open the series against Rochester; 31 saves on 32 shots. In the back and forth game 3, Americans goalie Aaron Dell was the goaltender that was particularly busy as he faced 60 Rocket shots in that game.
Even tough Primeay is playing at peak performance right now; you can’t forget the high level of play from his teammates in front of him. The Rocket were the best team on the ice for their two games played at the Place Bell and there is one particular aspect of the play that pops out in this matchup; speed.
Don’t take our word for it. The Rochester Americans head coach, Seth Appert, talked about it in an article that came out of the AHL official website after game 1 (https://theahl.com/rocket-amerks-ready-to-go-right-back-to-work ).
“They’re faster” summarized the coach when he was asked to compare his team’s two first opponents in the playoffs with the Laval Rocket. “They’re just way faster. They put you in some more uncomfortable positions.”
When you think about the speed of the Rocket, it’s hard not to think about Brandon Gignac, who is shining through his skating in this matchup. As we saw in the dying minutes of game #2, he is used in every which way possible by his coach and he is responding very well with his play.
Since the beginning of the series, Laval’s #37 maintained a +5 scoring chances differential at 5 on 5. It’s the second-best mark among Rocket forwards versus Rochester as he is only trailing Alex Belzile, who was skating with him during game 2. Gignac also added his heroics in the 3OT thriller on Wednesday night as got the Rocket on the board and started the teams comeback.
It’s a continuity from the last round for Gignac, who is showing the third-best Corsi percentage among Rocket forward in these playoffs. Once again, he is behind Belzile but also the hero of game #1 against the Americans; Danick Martel.
This time in the offensive zone has been paying off as those three players are also leading the team in terms of shots on goal during the playoffs. In the whole AHL, only two players have more shots than Martel (26) in these playoffs, which shows how good they are playing. That good play got rewarded in front of a raucous crowd at the Place Bell.
The crowd makes a difference
Those fans were being talked a lot about after game #2. Every player who talked to the media mentioned their impact on the game and on the fun that they have playing right now.
“We started really strong to get the momentum with the crowd and all” explained Brandon Gignac. “It’s unbelievable. They were there all year for us and now, during the playoffs, it’s better than ever. The feeling you get when you step on the ice is unbelievable. I can’t even describe it. It gives us a little step-up on the other team. Thanks to the fans for coming and we will try to win this for you guys.”
“I’ve never seen a crowd like that my whole life” summarized Tobie Bisson. “Playing in Laval right now, it’s unbelievable. For us, we just want to play the longest possible.”
“This is the best crowd I’ve played in” admitted Louie Belpedio. “Obviously in the American League. You know I’ve played in the NHL a little bit as well but in terms of energy, I’ll take this rink over that any day in terms of fans and crowd. It’s definitely different. Nobody likes hockey like people in Quebec do. I’ve learned that this year. It’s an honour to be able to play in front of them. It’s something I don’t take for granted. You feel good when you skated out of that tunnel with everyone cheering and waving their towel. I know it’s not easy for other teams to come in here and play.”
The Rocket will get another chance to play in front of their home crowd as the team is preparing for the Eastern Conference final. The team will play the winner of the series between Springfield and Charlotte, which is currently lead by Springfield 2-0. While the team will start on the road, the Rocket will be back in front of their fans for Game 3 (June 8th), Game 4 (June 10th) and possibly Game 5 if necessary (June 11th). For any remaining tickets, please visit RocketLaval.com.