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Charlie Lindgren looks to prove “naysayers” wrong after Habs snub

Rocket goaltender made 26 saves in victory over Cleveland.

Laval Rocket

Laval Rocket goaltender Charlie Lindgren is disappointed about not being called up by the Montreal Canadiens. But he’s trying to battle through it.

“I’ve got quite the chip on my shoulder right now,” Lindgren said postgame. “There’s no question about it. I feel like I’ve got a lot of naysayers right now.”

One day after the Montreal Canadiens called up goaltender 20-year-old Cayden Primeau from the Rocket, the 25-year-old Lindgren made 26 saves in a 3-2 victory over the Cleveland Monsters at Place Bell Wednesday night. All five goals scored came on the man advantage, including three Rocket goals from Alexandre Alain, Alex Belzile and Xavier Ouellet.

The need for a backup goaltender became evident once the Habs waived goaltender Keith Kinkaid in the hopes of improving his confidence on Monday. Some fans and prognosticators believed Lindgren would have been the Canadiens’ pick to replace him. Lindgren has an 8-8-2 record in 18 National Hockey League appearances.

Instead, it was Primeau who got the call from the Habs. The youngster will likely make his NHL debut in the coming days, meaning Lindgren will have wait a little longer to be on an NHL roster again.

“I just have to keep on playing hard,” he said. “Honestly, that’s all I can do. I know I can play. There’s no doubt about it, I’ve done it before. I’m playing really well in the American League right now. I’ve said it before. I’ve had a pretty good season so far, I’d say.”

While Primeau does have a better record (7-4-1-1, 2.58 GAA, .910 SV%) than his counterpart (6-5-2-1, 2.65 GAA, .896 SV%), Lindgren has now won back-to-back starts and hasn’t allowed more than two goals in a game over that span.

Laval Rocket head coach Joel Bouchard says he spoke to Lindgren after Primeau was called up.

“We’re going to work together so he can perform well on the ice,” Bouchard said. “That’s how you make your best impression, it’s to play well on the ice. That’s what works the best for a player. For him, to play the way he did tonight, we’re happy. He did the work, it’s on him to continue.”

Three assist night for Poehling

Rookie Ryan Poehling assisted on all three Rocket power play goals, giving him his first multi-point game in the American Hockey League.

“A lot of them came pretty easy,” Poehling said. “Five-on-threes, it’s always good to execute. It was part of our game plan. So I think that helped a lot. I think just doing the right things, it’s a matter of time before it pays off. I’ve played well in the last two weeks and it hasn’t been going in. Now, all of a sudden it goes in. That’s hockey.”

In Poehling’s last six games—spanning over the last two weeks—the American forward now has two goals and three assists. He’s also had opportunities to play at five-on-five and on special teams.

“I don’t think as much,” Poehling said. “Seriously, I just go out and play hockey. I think that’s the biggest thing. I’m a smart player and I don’t have to overthink things. I just have to do the right things. I think when you overthink things then you second guess yourself and you’re a little bit late on some plays.

“I felt like the first couple weeks I was here I just (was) hesitant a little bit. You’re just one step behind the play. Now it’s like, when you don’t think you just play.”

Battered and bruised

The Rocket might have won Wednesday night’s game, but they found themselves losing players by the end of the night. Forwards Jake Evans, Dale Weise, and even the recently returned Belzile all left the game at different points due to injury, leaving the team short three skaters to end the game.

Bouchard did not provide any updates on their respective injuries postgame and didn’t rule out having to find extra bodies to fill in spaces in the lineup.

“I can’t really tell you what’s going on,” Bouchard said. “We’ll know more in the next 24-48 hours. In the case of Jake Evans, Dale Weise, and Belzile, they’re really important players for us. We’re going to cross our fingers and see what happens tomorrow.”

Belzile was out for the last two weeks with a concussion prior to Wednesday night’s game.

Bouchard on Otto Leskinen’s call-up

The Habs defensive unit hasn’t been the most consistent throughout the 2019-20 season. With Victor Mete injured, reinforcements from Laval are needed. Swedish defenceman Gustav Olofsson played three games for the Habs before being returned to Laval Wednesday. The next man up is Finnish defenceman Otto Leskinen. Bouchard says the 22-year old was ecstatic about the opportunity.

“It’s probably the best reaction I’ve had in two years of a guy getting called up,” Bouchard said. “(Looking) at him bouncing up and down a bit and jumping in my arms. It was exciting, it was refreshing. You have to remember this guy comes from Europe, signs as a free agent with us. He’s doing really good, he’s working hard.”

“He was in disbelief a little bit,” Bouchard continued. “It’s refreshing. It’s their dream. It’s their dream to be part of an NHL team, to play in the best league in the world and we’re very happy for him.”

Leskinen joined the Habs this past May, signing a two-year, entry-level contract. In 24 games this season, Leskinen has one goal and 12 points with Laval.