Playoff Preview: The Laval Rocket take on the Syracuse Crunch in Division Semifinals
By Dylan Buvat
With a decisive 5-1 win over the Syracuse Crunch in their final game of the regular season, the Laval Rocket ensured themselves a third-place finish in the North division, and a bye to the Division Semifinals.
The Rocket will be facing the Syracuse Crunch in their first playoff series in franchise history.
The two teams went head-to-head eight times this past season, with Laval winning five of those divisional matchups (5-3-0). The Rocket also outscored the Crunch 24 to 21 in those eight games.
The Crunch should not be taken lightly in this best-of-five series as the New York based team has several highly skilled goalscorers, including two former Montreal Canadiens forwards Charles Hudon and Gabriel Dumont, who both scored 30 goals each this past season.
The Rocket will also need to find a way to shut down veteran forward Riley Nash, who has 661 games of NHL hockey under his belt, 34 of which are playoffs games. Nash was a big offensive contributor for the Crunch in the latter half of their season, with 10 goals and 18 points in 17 games.
Despite their ability to put the puck in the net, the Crunch finished 22nd in the AHL in goals against, allowing an average 3.01 goals per game. Maxime Lagace, who projects to be their starting goaltender in this series, finished the season with a 2.31 GAA and a .910 Sv%.
The Rocket on the other hand have had a strong season with a balanced attack. Forwards Jean-Sébastien Dea and Rafael Harvey-Pinard are sure to be put to the test this series. Dea lead the Rocket in goals with 26, while Harvey-Pinard was the team’s regular season point leader with 56. Goaltender Kevin Poulin, who won the AHL’s goaltender of the month award in February, finished the season with a record of 18-8-3 and with a 2.34 GAA and a .920 Sv%.
Game 1 of the Division Semifinals between The Rocket and the Crunch is scheduled to be played on May 6th at 7 p.m. Please see the full schedule below. For tickets to home games in Laval, visit RocketLaval.com.