Rocket-Crunch: by the numbers
This is the week that the Laval Rocket will play its first playoff game since its inception. Obviously, playoff hockey is different and so is the unreal atmosphere that is sure to rock Place Bell in the coming days.
With that being said, the Rocket and the Syracuse Crunch faced each other eight times this season, so we wanted to see what those games, and especially the numbers from those matchups, could tell us about this historical series that is upcoming between Syracuse and Laval.
Here are the tendencies that clearly popped up when we looked back at the eight matchups between these two division rivals:
It’s going to be a close series
The Rocket had the edge in the season series by winning five of the eight games between these two foes. Nevertheless, it was extremely tight, as the 24-21 goals total in favour of Laval can show.
The special teams didn’t have much of an impact either during the regular season as the Rocket also kept a 3-goal lead in terms of 5 on 5 goals; 15-12. Looking at special teams, it’s pretty obvious that both penalty kills were the better units during the regular season.
Overall, both teams maintained a 13.73% success rate on the power play in their games against each other during the campaign. It’s pretty low for two teams who were hanging around the 18% mark during the year. The team that will find a way to get close to their season average will have a healthy advantage in this clash.
It means that much because both teams are really well matched up at 5 on 5. Even though the Rocket had an edge in goals, when you look at scoring chances, you can see that they are tied. Both teams had 101 scoring chances against the other one this season. You can’t get any closer than that and after eight games, it shows how evenly-matched they are.
The Rocket fortress
All season long, one of the Rocket strengths has been in the crease where Kevin Poulin and Cayden Primeau have done excellent work. The games against the Syracuse Crunch were certainly no different.
Primeau stopped 90% of the Crunch shots while Poulin has been quite simply imperial in front of his net against Syracuse. In more than 240 minutes of play against them this season, Poulin only allowed five goals on 106 shots. There is no doubt that Jean-François Houle will have two quality options in front of his net all series long.
Laval’s second line can cause problems
During the eight games between these two clubs this season, the players who currently form the Rocket second line (Bourque, Teasdale and Schnarr) all had real success. No players recorded more points than Joël Teasdale (6) during those matchups. The #24 notably scored 4 times against the Crunch this year.
Gabriel Bourque has been the teams third best point getter in those games against Syracuse while Nate Scharr seems to like this opponent with three points in two games versus them since his arrival with the Rocket.
During the playoffs, where every goal becomes crucial, especially when you get in a series that is setup to be as tight as this one, the production from everywhere in the lineup becomes even more important. If the Rocket can count on its second line to create offense against the Crunch, it’s a real good way to start this challenge.
So can the third
It’s even more true when you see that this top 6 allows the Rocket to put Paquette, Gignac and Ylönen on the third line like it was the case in the last game versus the Crunch. It’s obviously quite a luxury to count on guys like Paquette and Ylönen, who showed some nice things in the NHL, at this spot of the lineup but you also have to think about Brandon Gignac.
We now all know that the #37 can score highlight reel goals but he is also really good against the Crunch. This season, he led all Rocket forwards when it comes to scoring chances differential at 5 on 5 versus Syracuse. He creates some good plays against them and with linemates like he now has, there is a real potential there.
With all of this in place, we can certainly expect an entertaining series between these two clubs who were close all year. In that close matchup, the Rocket certainly have assets that can make the fans really believe in this teams chances to go far.