The bounces didn’t fall their way. But Rocket head coach Joël Bouchard felt his team wasn’t outplayed by the North Division-leading Rochester Americans.
“I think we could play with any team in the league,” Bouchard said following his team’s 3-2 loss to the Rochester Americans Friday night at Place Bell. “It’s been like this for two years. Bring everybody here. Tell me a team that really outclassed us. Even if we had the youngest team last year. And tell me this year, besides [some] games. Tell me when we were outworked and outplayed this year. It didn’t happen too often.”
The Americans got their three goals from Casey Nelson, Sean Malone, and Eric Cornel. The Rocket actually outshot their opponent 37-20, including an 18-5 shot advantage in the third period.
Charles Hudon, who is playing through a lower-body injury, and Nikita Jevpalovs scored for the Rocket.
Friday night’s lineup was in stark contrast to the Rocket’s opening-day set of lines. Forward Ryan Poehling was called up by the Montreal Canadiens prior to the game, two days after being sent down to Laval.
The team was already without Riley Barber and Matthew Peca (who is now on Injured Reserve), both called up in the last few days. Alex Belzile, Michael McCarron, and Phil Varone are all sidelined due to injury.
“I think that really speaks to our depth,” Rocket goalie Charlie Lindgren said. The netminder made 17 saves in the loss. “We got really good hockey players on this team. We had some guys step up and play really good tonight.”
Starting goalie for Saturday?
Since Keith Kinkaid arrived in Laval, Bouchard’s goaltending rotation has been thrown out of whack.
When Cayden Primeau was in Laval, Bouchard alternated starts between him and Lindgren. Kinkaid originally fell in line with the rotation, but had to be pressed into duty last Saturday once Lindgren was injured against the Springfield Thunderbirds.
Bouchard originally said Kinkaid would start Friday’s game, but an “organizational decision” resulted in Lindgren starting Friday night. Following Friday night’s game, Bouchard said he’d sleep on the decision to reveal his starting goaltender for Saturday afternoon’s rematch.
Hudon playing through pain
Despite being on crutches over the last few days, Hudon was in the lineup for Friday night’s game.
Hudon’s first-period marker tied the game at one goal apiece. He was sprung after taking a centre-ice pass from Dale Weise. Hudon then buried his 11th goal of the year past Jonas Johansson, and now has six goals in his last four AHL games.
“In his case, the discussion we had with him and his doctors, there’s no risk of it getting worse,” Bouchard said of Hudon’s injury. “But there’s going to be some pain and maybe discomfort that will come with it. Now [it’s on] the player to say where he feels he can play. And Charles feels he can play.”