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The monkey is off the back of Danick Martel

Changing the calendar seems to have been beneficial for the Laval Rocket. Despite a lot of recalls and injuries, Jean-François Houle’s squad got points in the standings in their three December games so far. That includes two consecutive wins, first against Texas at Place Bell on Friday night and then in Toronto on Sunday afternoon.

Those two wins allowed some Rocket players to get something off their chest or more specifically in the hockey tradition, throwing the monkey off of their back after a long goalless streak.

Jean-Sébastien Dea was the first one to do it on Friday night at Place Bell after his power play goal that gave back the lead to the Rocket late in the second period. Then, when he scored the game winner in overtime, Brandon Gignac did the same move.

On Sunday, it was Danick Martel’s turn to take the monkey off his back after ending a six-game goalless streak that started after a two-goal game against Bridgeport on November 11th. He admitted that it was mostly for fun and emulate Dea and Gignac but that there was still pressure lifted off his shoulders.

“Since the beginning of the year, it was something that was playing a bit with my head” said the Rocket forward. “I don’t score like I’m used to scoring. At the same time, the chances are there.”

When Martel mentions the fact that the chances are there, he is not lying. Among the active players in Laval right now, he leads the group with 52 shots on goal this season. We see the same phenomenon when you look at the scoring chances differential.

Looking at Laval’s two wins over the weekend, we see that Danick Martel led the team with a +5 scoring chances differential at 5 on 5. He also comes in third among forwards when it comes to Corsi percentage at 57.14%. The only ones ahead of him were Alex Belzile (66,67%) and Rafaël Harvey-Pinard (58.06%).

Talking to the Rocket head coach, the key to Martel’s success is not really hard to identify.

“Martel is using his speed really well right now” resumed Jean-François Houle. “He tries to be the first on the puck and that is what’s making the difference.”

Martel himself said something similar when we talked to him earlier in the week. He also talked about his new line with Kevin Roy and Brandon Gignac, who seem to have found some chemistry in the last few games.

“With Roy and Gignac, we work hard” explained Martel. “It’s a line with which, if you work hard, good things are going to happen for you. Like we saw this weekend, there is a lot of speed on our line. We keep things simple and it’s good because that’s what worked in the last two games.”

The chemistry between those players is obvious when you dive in the 5 on 5 numbers. For example, when Martel and Roy share the ice this season, the Rocket have a Corsi percentage of 62.71%. That’s almost a 2 for 1 ratio when it comes to shot attempts when they are on the rink. For two guys that are usually around 50% when they are split up, it’s a pretty clear sign of chemistry.

Obviously, this puck possession leads to scoring chances and goals. The score is 4-1 Laval when they are playing together at 5 on 5 and they have a nice +10 scoring chances differential together. When they are split, both are at -10 in that statistic.

Danick Martel seems to have found the way that allows him to contribute to the Rocket success and it’s starting to show on the scoresheet. Now that he and Gignac threw the monkey off their back, this production might maintain in the future. There might even be a snowball effect that’s coming for this line and the Rocket.