The second month of the season has passed. The IceCaps played 14 times, winning eight games and losing six, for a points-earned percentage of 0.571; their second-most successful month of November since Sylvain Lefebvre took over behind the bench. It was a much better result than the previous month. which ended up being their worst October ever.
Whereas in October it was their special teams that led the way for team success, the team has seen their monthly combined efficiency fall from 113.0% in October (a power play operating at 27.3%, and an 85.7% penalty kill) to 100.9% in November (22.8% PP, 78.1% PK). The downward-trending penalty kill is especially worrying given the team’s lack of discipline to this point.
In a month where the IceCaps were outshot in all but three games, Charlie Lindgren was frequently the difference between a blowout loss and a win. Stopping on average 30 shots per game, Lindgren won six of his 11 starts, with three instances of back-to-back starts in that time, while maintaining a save percentage of .913.
That number is lower than the universal praise he’s received seems to indicate, simply because he had one terrible game against Syracuse where he got shelled for six goals. More often than not, Lindgren has been spectacular in nets for the IceCaps and gives them a chance to win every game.
At least Lindgren is still good! pic.twitter.com/6BRfkSTZbj— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) November 30, 2016
Another great save by Charlie Lindgren. Marlies lead 1-0 now, but Lindgren has been the IceCaps best. pic.twitter.com/LUOKxF2KTQ— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) November 20, 2016
With Charles Hudon, Chris Terry, Daniel Carr, and Sven Andrighetto spending the majority of the month with the Montreal Canadiens, it was Scherbak who emerged as the team’s offensive leader. He played arguably the best month of his professional career, scoring six goals and adding another six assists for 12 points in 14 games. Scherbak displayed offensive creativity, a deadly wrist shot, and crisp passing that is starting to solidify him as one of the top offensive prospects.
Nikita Scherbak running the powerplay is a beautiful sight: pic.twitter.com/wrDWRgUZ29— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) November 16, 2016
Barberio is currently in the NHL with the Montreal Canadiens, but during the 10 games that he did play for the IceCaps in November, he remained a defensive stalwart while generating the fourth-most shots of all skaters, and scoring more goals than the rest of the defensive corps combined. The only reason he was in the AHL was due to congestion at the NHL level, so unless there is any player movement when Nathan Beaulieu is ready to return, we should expect Barberio to return to the IceCaps in December to lead the charge once again.
Mike Barberio makes it 3-1 with a great shot. Nikita Scherbak (he has been excellent tonight) grabs the primary assist. pic.twitter.com/7QvYwzyRGt— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) November 12, 2016
Goal of the Month
Scherbak at it again, sets up Hudon for his team leading seventh goal of the year. IceCaps up 3-1 pic.twitter.com/w41vHh72E7— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 2, 2016
- Despite only playing in half or less of the IceCaps games in November due to their time with Montreal, Hudon, Terry, and Andrighetto were point-per-game players for the IceCaps. Andrighetto has already been returned for a second stint with the IceCaps, while Terry was freshly returned to the AHL as Brian Flynn returns from injury for the Canadiens.
- Michael McCarron and Jacob de la Rose are slowly gaining momentum in their season. McCarron was second on the team for shots on goal in November, and his seven points were a vast improvement over his lack of production in October. As for de la Rose, he distinguishes himself with his disciplined defensive game, taking few penalties despite tough assignments.
- Stefan Matteau led the team in penalty minutes this month thanks to three misconduct penalties, including a match penalty for a spearing incident. That transgression ultimately led to a one-game suspension. He also had a team worst -4, despite scoring five goals, of which two were empty-netters.
- Ryan Johnston is floundering in his sophomore season despite being an excellent skater and being one of the team leaders for controlled zone exits. He struggles offensively despite having all the apparent tools to succeed. He was able to score his first pro goal this month, but more was expected from him. He found himself scratched from the lineup three times in November, failing to become indispensable even on an offensively starved blue line.
- Sylvain Lefebvre decided to send a message to Scherbak, starting him on the fourth line in the final match of the month. Making matters worse, he benched his leading scorer for the entire first period. There is probably more to this story than is being reported at the moment, but such a display of public humiliation of the team’s top skater does no favours for the beleaguered coach in the eyes of the public.