Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
It's been a slow start for most of the Bulldogs veterans, but Palushaj is starting to assert himself.
So far this year it's been the rookies from the CHL and NCAA carrying the Bulldogs. The CHL line of Patrick Holland - Michael Bournival - Brendan Gallagher has been particularly potent. Blake Geoffrion was also heating up before his devastating injury.
In back to back games against the Toronto Marlies this week, Palushaj was probably the most impressive of the bunch, scoring twice (including a shorthanded marker) and adding an assist. His solid week brought him into a tie with Brendan Gallagher for the team lead in points with 8, and goals with 5.
Palushaj is actually shooting less often this year (3.08 shots per game) than he did last year in Hamilton (3.29 shots per game), although that could be a function of a slightly diminished role with the dominance of the CHL line at even strength, or possibly the lack of a top 6 center to get him the puck in the absence of Geoffrion. However Gabriel Dumont seems to be doing okay as a fill in.
Palushaj was able to produce at a point per game rate in the AHL last season without much help from linemates, so he should break out a bit and start putting up a lot more production soon. The Bulldogs are still being stung with some bad shooting luck to begin the year, much like the Montreal Canadiens were to start last season, but it should turn around.
There is a lot of pressure on Palushaj to dominate in the AHL right now, as he is in serious danger of being passed over by players with better NHL futures than he has, like Gallagher. Leblanc returning from injury may give Palushaj the boost he needs to become the player he should be.
Runners up this week for POTW: Brendan Gallagher and Joonas Nattinen.