The St. John’s IceCaps completed their best month of March in five seasons under head coach Sylvain Lefebvre, after earning a total of 16 points in 13 games.
For this reason, they are in the midst of a very tight race for post-season participation, competing with the Albany Devils and Utica Comets for the final two playoff spots in the North Division. It appears as though the Syracuse Crunch and Toronto Marlies are breaking away from the pack, leaving the other three team to slug it out.
There are just seven opportunities in the month of April for the IceCaps to solidify their position, and they’ll have to start the final stretch without their starting goaltender, Charlie Lindgren, who is on recall with the Montreal Canadiens.
Jacob de la Rose
De la Rose has been playing excellent hockey for two months now; pretty much since his return from the Canadiens at the start of February. Whereas Nikita Scherbak’s play suffered tremendously after his return to the AHL, de la Rose appeared to be on a mission this month.
He scored five goals, including a game-winner, and added two assists. Besides his offensive contribution, he has been defensively impeccable, playing against the opposing teams’ top lines and maintaining a +5 rating in 13 games.
De la Rose’s line-mate, Max Friberg, gets second-star honours for his tireless work ethic on the ice. In the midst of a playoff push, the captain has really stepped up his game. He’s provided his team with an example to follow in terms of physicality, dedication, and responsible play.
Despite the toughest assignments, Friberg still managed to score two goals and add five assists in 13 games.
Yannick Veilleux ties the game with his sixth of the year, Max Friberg with a great setup too. pic.twitter.com/SXq0EBUtlh— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) March 26, 2017
Chris Terry remains an offensive monster for the IceCaps, and an absolute beast on the power play where he scores most of his goals. In fact, 17 of his 27 goals have come on the power play, putting him on top in the American Hockey League. He’s also tied for third in overall scoring in the AHL.
In March, he managed to score six goals and add two assists, leading the IceCaps in points. However, his overall play can be criticized for allowing too many offensive opportunities the other way, resulting in a -2 rating.
You will notice a pattern in the goals that he scores.
Chris Terry doing Chris Terry things, this power play goal is his 26th of the year. pic.twitter.com/jZoYy01JcG— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) March 31, 2017
Make that 27 goals for Chris Terry, who uncorks another rocket on the power play! pic.twitter.com/mQWwMrjKh5— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) March 31, 2017
Chris Terry, knee down one-timer, goal.— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) March 19, 2017
Like clockwork these days pic.twitter.com/AXN3MXBCcd
Goal of the Month
- Selecting the three stars this month was incredibly difficult because of the total team performance all month. Dwindling it down to three is almost unfair as so many players deserved the honour.
In addition to those selected, Daniel Audette has seen a resurgence in his play, Bobby Farnham contributed physically and offensively, Charles Hudon had two game-winning goals in March, Scherbak continued to put up points amidst defensive struggles, and Stefan Matteau’s play has improved tremendously.
- Often forgotten because of its minor-league implications, the trade that General Manager Marc Bergevin made to send the ineffective Philip Samuelsson to Charlotte in exchange for Keegan Lowe is absolutely one of the reasons that the IceCaps are in the position they are right now.
- Secondary and tertiary offence was on display. Out of the 23 players who suited up for the IceCaps this month, all but four put up points. The fourth line was particularly successful, with Mark MacMillan (2G, 1A), Jeremy Grégoire (3G, 1A), and Yannick Veilleux (1G, 2A) all putting up points at a higher rate than expected, including a crucial game-winning goal against Rochester to start their homestand off on the right foot.
- Giving up two third-period leads against Lehigh Valley added unnecessary strain to the tight playoff chances. The IceCaps would be in a far better place were it not for those two lost points.
- Carr has had a rough stint in St. John’s thus far. Missing most of February due to a “minor procedure,” Carr returned to the team only to immediately take some time off for personal matters.
These factors were out of his control, of course, but they certainly affected his game as he only collected two points in 10 matches. He’d worked his way onto the top line with Hudon and Terry, but in the last game of the month against Binghamton, Carr took a vicious hit to the head and his health is questionable once again.
Ugly looking hit on Daniel Carr by Charles-David Beaudoin, Carr went straight to the room and has not returned. pic.twitter.com/ASs1hFLQxP— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) March 31, 2017
- Zach Redmond couldn’t catch a break when, after returning from injury, he succumbed to another injury.
- Signing that entry-level contract with the Canadiens seems to have been a curse for Markus Eisenschmid. He’s only played seven games since then after going down with an injury. Now healthy, he’s struggling to return back into the line-up with everyone playing so well.
Listen to Andrew weekly on TSN 690 Radio Sundays at 8:05am on Habs Breakfast, part of Weekend Game Plan.