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Corey Schueneman, the return of a leader

While the Rocket forward group has been decimated during the team’s last trip, the defensive squad is currently so full that Terrance Amorosa, who is having a good season for Laval, had been moved to forward for Saturday’s game against Belleville. It allowed him to play his first game since January 19th.

Between Amorosa’s last game and Saturday, the Rocket received some nice reinforcements from the NHL, including notably the return of Corey Schueneman on January 26th.

“It’s a little bit sad but sometimes in the AHL, you need to make some heartbreaking decisions as a coach” explained Jean-François when he was about the scratches he needs to make when reinforcements like Ouellet and Schueneman arrives but also Sami Niku and Josh Brook in the near future. “If we need to play with seven defensemen, we will play with seven defensemen but those won’t be easy decisions.”

Schueneman had been recalled by the Canadiens after some injuries on the backend in the NHL and he made the most of his opportunity by playing his first four games in the league. That’s not a small feat for a player who was never drafted and who signed his first NHL contract at the young age of 25 years old.

In those circumstances, you could have thought that coming back to Laval would have been a disappointment for Schueneman, which in turn could impact his play on the ice. The complete opposite happened because he has excelled in his first five games back in a Laval Rocket jersey.

His biggest impact came in the February 4th game against the Utica Comets. His tying goal helped the Rocket to grab a big point in the standings against one of the best teams in the league in what was a very tight hockey game.

That being said, his contribution goes way above the points he puts up on the board. Since his return with the Rocket, Schueneman leads all Rocket defensemen with a scoring chances differential of +9 at 5 on 5.

When you look at Corsi percentage, he is simply dominating in Laval. The #6 is at 59.74% in that category, which is the best of the team with a healthy cushion on the second-best player, Jean-Sébastien Dea (56.92%) who missed Saturday’s difficult game against Belleville.

“He’s playing well” summarized the Rocket head coach Jean-François Houle. “Defensively, he’s pretty physical, he has a good stick. He scored a big goal for us in Utica. He’s a player who can produce offensively and who’s able to contribute in all aspects of the game. He’s a player who is pretty important for us in the lineup.”

It’s not just a flash in the pan either because Schueneman was this solid even before his callup to Montreal. This season, he is leading all Rocket defensemen with a 59.62% Corsi percentage. Since he missed a few games, he comes second to Louie Belpedio (+28) when it comes to scoring chances differential at 5 on 5 (+22).

No player shows better the impact of Corey Schueneman on this team than Tory Dello, his partner on the blueline since his return to Laval. When they are on the ice together this season at 5 on 5, the Rocket maintained a +14 edge in 5 on 5 scoring chances.

When you look at Corsi percentage, Dello has a 61.34% when they play together.

There is no doubt that Corey Schueneman is a pillar in the defensive squad of the Laval Rocket. Everybody who shares the ice with him gets better and this makes him a crucial player with the playoff chase incoming for Laval.