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Harvey-Pinard’s work is finally rewarded on the scoresheet

Since the beginning of December, the Laval Rocket got 9 of the 12 points that were available in the standings. This hot streak comes at a moment during which the team’s top two points getters, Laurent Dauphin and Jesse Ylönen, are getting playing time in the NHL.

The team therefore needed a total effort from the remaining players plus some stellar work from Cayden Primeau to get those points. Last week-end, it was Rafaël Harvey-Pinard’s turn to step up and become the Rocket’s hero.

It happened in Hershey where the Rocket beat the Bears 4-2. RHP’s game didn’t start as he would have liked with a delay of game penalty during which Hershey opened the scoring. He would turn the tide pretty quickly though.

In the last minutes of the first period, HP got an assist on the tying goal scored by Terrance Amorosa. He kept it up in the third where he scored the game winning goal on the penalty kill. Not only was it on the PK but it was also a penalty shot that he created himself.

Later, in the closing minutes of the game, the #11 put the game away by scoring the insurance goal with a laser shot. It was his fourth point of the week-end and it surely made the Rocket’s road back from Hershey more tolerable.

“Obviously it’s a good feeling” admitted Harvey-Pinard. “Since the beginning of the year, I felt like I was playing well in my zone, I was doing fine, but I wanted to contribute more to the team success offensively. Obviously, a game like that is always fun. I felt like it was coming. The last few games, it was going better and better. A big game like that one sure helps the confidence.”

This offensive outburst now puts Harvey-Pinard at the top of active Rocket players when it comes to points tied with Jean-Sébastien Dea, Lukas Vejdemo and Tobie Bisson. Since more than half of his points were recorded in December, it shows how well he is playing for the Rocket right now. His coach certainly noticed that evolution.

“I think that Harvey-Pinard is driving a little more to the net right now” analysed the coach Jean-François Houle. “He finds the way to score goals. He’s a player who does everything well on the ice and we’re really excited that he found a way to get some points over the week-end. He was rewarded for the effort he’s been putting in since the beginning of the season.”

When the coach says that Harvey-Pinard is doing everything well on the ice, he is not exaggerating. When you look at the 5 on 5 play of Harvey-Pinard, you see that he is one of the Rocket best forwards in that phase of play since the beginning of the season.

As an example, if you focus on the scoring chances differential at 5 on 5, you see that with +16, Harvey-Pinard comes second among Rocket forwards behind Jean-Sébastien Dea (+18). The diminutive forward is also doing good in Corsi percentage. When he is on the ice this season at 5 on 5, the Rocket gets 59,19% of the shot attempts. This is very close to a 3 for 2 ratio in favour of Laval. It’s also the second-best number among Rocket forwards, this time behind Alex Belzile (64,07%).

It’s not a coincidence that both guys are playing together right now. It’s not surprising either that they’re doing pretty well. When they share the ice this season at 5 on 5, the Rocket have a +7 edge in scoring chances. It even shows on the big board because the score is 8-3 Laval this year when #11 and 22 are on the ice together at 5 on 5.

“I think it’s on the level of communication” answered the #11 when asked about his connection with Alex Belzile. “Each time that we’re on the bench together, we talk a lot. Even in the locker room before the games, we’ll talk about the little plays we want to make together with Vejdemo. We have played together for a few games now and when that happens, you obviously develop a good chemistry. It’s going better every game and we find each other on the ice more and more.”

We talked a lot about the impact on the 5 on 5 play but it also shows on the scoresheet. It’s not by chance that the majority of RHP points came in December. You can say the same thing about Alex Belzile, who recorded a point in every game this month except one.

That chemistry didn’t go unnoticed by Jean-François Houle.

“I like the line of Harvey-Pinard, Vejdemo and Belzile a lot” admitted the Rocket coach. “It’s a line who’s able to play well defensively while also contributing offensively. Those guys are working hard in all three zones.”

Those efforts are finally showing up on the score sheet, which is a good and deserved sign for Harvey-Pinard but also for the Laval Rocket who benefit greatly from his all-around game.