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‘It’s part of learning to become an NHL player’: The apprenticeship of Ryan Poehling continues

Some tough love for the Canadiens prospect in Laval’s win on Wednesday.

Hartford Wolfpack v Laval Rocket Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

If you watched the third period of Wednesday night’s 4-1 win by the Laval Rocket over the Hartford Wolf Pack you would be wondering why Ryan Poehling was not taking a regular shift.

Poehling started the game on a new-look line with Charles Hudon and Nikita Jevpalovs. The trio was on the ice for the only Wolf Pack goal of the game with less than four minutes to go in the second period. They didn’t play another shift together. Hudon and Jevpalovs both scored in the third period, Jevpalovs into an empty net, but Poehling was not on the ice for either goal.

On the Wolf Pack goal, Gustav Olofsson passed the puck to Poehling, who couldn’t handle the puck behind the net. Steven Fogarty picked it up, and centred it to a wide open Tim Gettinger who beat Charlie Lindgren.

“For me, it wasn’t his best game,” Rocket head coach Joël Bouchard said. “I know that Ryan is a good prospect here, I like him a lot, he’s 20 years old, but there I some games where I need to coach. I need to be objective and realistic with the elements I have in front of me and we play to win. We’re here to develop and to win.”

Bouchard doesn’t play favourites but he’s hard on Poehling because he knows what he has in him. He holds all players to a standard. If you perform, you’ll play and if you don’t, you won’t. While he sat Poehling on Wednesday, he doesn’t see this as a long-term issue.

“Ryan will play Friday, he’ll continue his progression, but for me there were things that weren’t as good [Wednesday]. It was going fast for him and I will protect the player in those situations when they aren’t playing their best game. Pro hockey is competitive and Ryan is learning. It’s part of learning to become an NHL player.”

Poehling is in a three-way tie for second in team scoring with five points (three goals, two assists) in 11 games this season. Bouchard has relied on him in past games, and he knows he’ll rely on him again in the future.

“Last game against Providence it was other players who weren’t playing and Ryan stepped up at the end of the game. When the game is in its final moments it’s my job to choose who’s the most able that night. When he’s playing well, he’ll be the choice but tonight it wasn’t a game where he was at the top of his ability. But that’s good. That’s why he’s here. We’ll do video with him [Thursday], we’ll talk to him. I’m ready to go tonight.”

Poehling wasn’t the only player to not see much playing time in the final frame. Veteran Matthew Peca also saw his ice time reduced in the third period.

“I thought he had a great start to the game. He hasn’t played in a while so I’ll talk to him and we’ll restart Friday. It’s not negative. It’s just pro hockey.”

Laval finishes up the home series against Hartford on Friday night before hosting the Toronto Marlies, another team yet to lose in regulation, Saturday afternoon.