The missile expects to have their hands full against the young American attackers

Alexis Belanger Champagne, The Canadian Press

Laval, Q.; – The Laval Missile survived a close streak against the Syracuse Crisis and is now expected to have their hands full against the Rochester Americans in the Northern Division final.

The Best of Five series will begin Sunday night at Place Bell.

The Rocket and the Americans shared their eight-game season streak honors with four wins each.

“It’s a really talented team,” said Missiles defender Toby Beckett-Bison, analyzing the Americans’ formation. We won when we played hard and beat them. But the team we will face in the playoffs is not the same as in the season, as was the case with Syracuse.

“We will have to play hard against them and not try to beat them with great play. Our aim would rather be to neutralize them.”

Three of the top four scorers since the start of the NHL playoffs have come from the Americans, who defeated the Senators from Belleville in the qualifying round before eliminating Utica Comets in the semifinals. Arttu Ruotsalainen has scored eight goals and three assists in seven matches, while JJ Peterka (four goals and five assists) and Peyton Krebs (nine assists) have nine points each.

The Americans also got talented 20-year-old striker Jack Quinn, who was named eighth in the 2020 draft by the Buffalo Sabers.

“I think there’s a little more talent in this team,” said Xavier Auillet, the defender, as he compared the Americans to Crunch. They have very skilled young players. But other than that, I’d expect a similar series, with tight matches.

Rocket thinks they learned a lot from their streak against Crunch and came out stronger. Many players participate in their first NHL playoff or debut in many years.

“The atmosphere is more relaxed in the dressing room and during training,” said striker Jean-Sebastien Dea. Round one was a huge learning curve for young adults. We will be ready to give more to win the series.

“During the games we lost to Syracuse, we shot less into the net,” Besson added. We have to go to the net, be in front of their goalkeeper and above all, we have to play quickly. When we play quietly and think a lot, then we get caught and spend a lot of time in our area.”

Depth of the test

Rocket and the Americans will have to deal with a busy schedule. The first three games of the series will be played over four nights – at Laval on Sunday and Monday, then in Rochester on Wednesday. If the series reaches the five-game limit, both teams will have played all five games in eight days.

“I think it’s a more break table than we had in the first round. I found it long, admitted Ouellet. In the playoffs, you want to increase your pace and replay quickly to keep moving forward.”

Few of the Rocket players left the series beating Crunch. Striker Danic Martel also had to avoid contact in training on Friday.

“We will have to manage our energy level,” coach Jean-Francois Hoully said. We’ll see if we have enough depth and if we can use other players to draw on new legs if necessary.

Holly noted that striker Peter Abandonato came as reinforcements during the final against Crunch. Defender Gianni Verbrother may also be available after he has been out since March 4 due to injury.

A columnist for La Presse Friday morning reported that forward Riley Kidney will join the Rocket after Acadian’s Bathurst Titan elimination Thursday night in the Major League Hockey League in Quebec. Holly said nothing has been confirmed yet. A spokeswoman for Rocket added that if Kidney joins the team, it likely won’t be until early next week.

Hall also noted that if Kidney joins Rocket, he will be listed in phases and is not guaranteed to wear the team’s uniform for the game.

The Canadians’ pick for the second round in 2021, 63rd, Kidney has 100 points in 66 games for the Titans this season.

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