All week at Laval Rocket training camp, Montreal Canadiens prospects Josh Brook and Otto Leskinen were put together. They started the pre-season opener against the Belleville Senators at Place Bell as a pairing, but by the end of the first period of the 5-2 loss on Saturday afternoon, they were split.
The pairing, with only seven North American professional games between the two (Leskinen does have pro experience in Finland), was on the ice for the first three goals against in the loss. While they couldn’t necessarily be blamed for all of the goals against, it was clear that their styles were perhaps a bit too similar.
Both Brook and Leskinen like jumping into the play, and it is what has made them so successful but that doesn’t necessarily work when they are on the ice together.
Leskinen, on the Senators’ second goal tried to jump in to the offensive zone to create a scoring chance. The pass to him was just a bit off — as it can be when players are adjusting to playing with each other — and it caused a two-on-one break going the other way.
By the end of the first period, Brook played with David Sklenicka, while Leskinen was put with Maxim Lamarche — both veterans who played last season with the Rocket, and that was by design.
“They were both very dynamic and they had a lot of energy,” said Rocket head coach Joël Bouchard. “So we tried to put them with guys that played for us last year. There’s a lot of things with defencemen where with the puck and without the puck, there are principals where pro hockey challenges you and it’s going to be a learning curve for them. They’re two young guys, they had great energy in the game and it’s just a matter of wanting to settle the play a little bit and change the vibe after a few goals that they were on the ice.”
Despite the setback, Bouchard isn’t going to try to stifle the creativity in his young defencemen.
“The goal is to teach them the moment and how to recover from it. The way to see it is to guide them to become very solid defensemen. It’s not to stop them from doing anything else.”