On October 30, Guelph Storm Center Matthew Poitras, the Bruins second round pick at the 2022 National Hockey League Entry Draft was suspended for three games by the Ontario Hockey League for a slew foot. It was Poitras’ second suspension for the same infraction in a week – the fifth to an OHL player in a month and the second Storm player (Sasha Pastujov being the first).
When the second Poitras incident occurred, I took to Twitter.
There were varying responses but almost 100% of those that took the time to reply hate that it happened. One Twitter follower asked, “Is he a dirty player?” I responded with “I would say a frustrated player.” And then all hell broke loose in my direct messages asking me to explain what I meant. I will attempt to do that now.
Let me begin by saying in no way do I condone Poitras’ actions. In fact, I believe he was deserving of a longer suspension the second time around. A player should never let emotions get the best of him and put an opposing player in such a dangerous position. I’m not making excuses for Poitras and never will. But the fact is that he is not a dirty player, and, in this case, he let the emotions – which I believe is frustration – get the best of him. Hockey is about keeping your emotions in check and channeling them in the right direction. And this is where Poitras failed.
So, why do I think Poitras is a frustrated player?
Just two games into the season, the team announced Owner, President and Head Coach Scott Walker would be stepping away from his coaching duties due to health reasons. Obviously, news like that affects everyone differently and, in this case, it had a negative effect on several players.
There were high hopes for this young, talented up and coming team who were projected by most to be near the top of the standings. Instead, they find themselves with the worst points-percentage in the league. They’ve given up a league worst 72 goals in 14 games (Niagara has given up 54 in 12 games). They had league’s fourth best penalty kill a year ago (with the same players) it is easily a league worst this year.
The ‘Big Four’ in Pastujov, Danny Zhilkin, Michael Buchinger and Poitras have 12, 12, 12 and 11 points respectively. Only 5 teams have scored more goals but some of the younger players like Cam Allen, who many considered the top defenceman for the 2023 NHL Entry Draft is struggling with a league worst plus/minus and just 6 points through 14 games.
In the end, if it could have gone wrong for the Storm, it did go wrong. They can’t buy a save. They can’t get a bounce. They’ve grown accustomed to losing. They’ve forgotten how to win. I’m sure frustration has set in on everyone but it effects everyone differently.
Poitras should have learned his lesson the first time. He didn’t. He sure as hell better have learned it the second time around. He’s got a reputation now and he is going to have to work hard to put it behind him. Dirty Player? I think not. But I’m pretty sure we are looking at a very frustrated player. I’m sure there are those that will disagree with me and that is more then fine. I haven’t missed a game this season and I just like to call it as I see it. His body language at times speaks loudly and negatively.
With Keith Kincaid in Boston for an injured Jeremy Swayman, Brandon Bussi got the call up to Providence from the Maine Mariners. Kyle Keyser went down with an injury in the first period Saturday. Bussi came in relief and stopped 25 of 27 shots for the victory. He got the Start Sunday in Bridgeport against the Islanders and stopped all 24 shots for the shutout. The Bruins are looking great in the blue paint.
Here’s a look at the Providence Bruins leaders:
Coming up this week:
|PLAYER||MON 7||TUE 8||WED 9||THU 10||FRI 11||SAT 12||SUN 13|
|BYCHKOV||Vs CSK||Vs SOC||Vs DIN|
|JELLVIK/GASSEAU/KUNTAR||At N E||Vs N E|
|LOHREI||At M S||At M S|
|LANGENBRUNNER||At REN||At UN|
|SPICER/OLSON||V OMA||Vs OMA|
|SCHMALTZ||Vs DEN||Vs DEN|
|DURAN/SVEDEBACK||Vs CON||At CON|
|GALLAGHER||At MAS||Vs MAS|
|MCFAUL||Vs CLG||At COR|
|POITRAS||At NB||At SBY||Vs SAR|
|HARRISON||At OTT||Vs HAM|
|MAST||At O S||Vs SAG||At GUE|
|EDWARD||Vs BAR||At WSR||Vs SOO|
|BRUNET||Vs CHI||Vs SHE||At SHE|
|DYCK||Vs REG||At LET|
The Champions League group stage is completed, and Peter Cehlarik and EV Zug finished tied for top spot. They will begin the Round of 16 Playoffs next week. For Matias Mantykivi and his Ilves Tampere squad, they finished in last place in their group and did not advance.
AROUND THE GLOBE
Jackson Edward has 3 goals and an assist in his last 5 games for the London Knights. I’m not sure too many people expected this type of offence from him. But it’s his style of play that would make him a fan favorite in Boston and he hasn’t lost any of that while taking on a bigger role with the Knights.
Frederic Brunet is on a four-game point streak (7 assists) and has 2 goals and 12 assists in his last 10 games. He’s short on his pace of 12 goals a year ago, but on pace to almost double up on his 34 assists in 63 games last season.
Philip Svedeback is unbeaten in 4 games allowing 10 goals on 81 shots. I agree the numbers don’t look great, but he is making high quality saves on high quality opportunities against high quality opponents while playing every minute of every game.
Riley Duran posted a hat trick on Friday against Massachusetts. The Freshman leads Providence in goals with 7 and points with 10 after 9 games. He scored 10 goals and 19 points a year ago in 38 contests. It’s early, but at this point I don’t envision any scenario where Duran doesn’t turn pro at the end of the year.
Oskar Jellvik Is a sophomore who has yet to score his first NCAA goal, but he does have helpers in 5 of his 6 games on the season and is tied for second in scoring for Boston College with fellow prospect Trevor Kuntar who has 2 goals and 3 assists. If you get to watch Providence play, I hope you can see why I had such high hopes for Jellvik last season. Andre Gasseau completes the Bruins trio in Providence. Gasseau scored his first career goal Saturday and also has two helpers on the season.
Reid Dyck won his first start of the year with the Swift Current Broncos of the WHL last week. He would lose his next start, but after a horrendous beginning to the season for him and his team he’s really come on strong posting a .906 save-percentage in his last 3 games.
Jonathan Myrenberg scored his first goal since the Bruins acquired his rights from the Vancouver Canucks last week on Friday for Mora IK in the HockeyAllsvenskan. He is under contract with Linkoping HC of the SHL until the end of the 2023-2024 season and is on loan to Mora IK in the Allsvenskan.
Matthew Poitras serving his second suspension of the young season for a slew foot, is eligible to return Thursday as Guelph heads on a northern road trip.
Ryan Mast has zero goals through the first 14 games of the season and a long way to go to reach the 9 he scored a season ago. But he is on pace to far exceed the 22 helpers from a year ago. Mast missed Sunday’s game with ‘flu like symptoms.’
Dustyn McFaul has returned from injury to play in his first two games of the season after missing the first seven. His offensive game never took off in the NCAA and it is early in the season for him, but he is attempting more shots from the blueline his senior year. We’ll see if it pays dividends.
Ty Gallagher is a player I like a lot. And while I love how his defence is coming along, he is a two-way defender who is pointless in 6 games and just has one helper on the season. I know he is not getting prime minutes and the best situational times of a game, but he needs to work through it. I believe he has it in him, so I want to see it.
Cole Spicer is pointless in 7 games and has 1 helper in 9 games on the season. Now, some will say I am being too hard on the freshman, but I only have him pegged for 5 goals and 5 assists on the season and he’s not on pace to make that. He also missed Saturday’s game.
Below is a chart I do at the beginning of every season. It rates each prospect on certain skill sets based on my viewings a season ago. It’s important to stress “in my viewings” as each player is seen through the same set of eyes as opposed to say some scouting services where you might have different scouts looking at different players.
It is also important to stress that it is based on last season. Things change like physicality for instance. A player may become more physical as he matures and adds strength and becomes more comfortable. Or a player moving onto different levels where he may get better coaching for skating as an example. It’s a way I map progression and if seen through the same set of eyes, I have faith in it.
I expect some ‘shake your head reactions’ at this though and If I were looking at it from the outside I probably would as well. Take Roman Bychkov for example. While just about every category says he can play in the NHL, he’s just not getting all the opportunities in the KHL. While he has exhibited all those things, he is capable of, he’s missed 19 games and averages 11:06 TOI in the 7 games he’s played.
Follow me on Twitter @dominictiano