Scoring an average of over four goals per game, the Val-d’Or Foreurs could very well win the Luc Robitaille Trophy for the second year in a row. With Foreurs’ sharpshooters like Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Anthony Richard and Julien Gauthier all with 30-goals already and counting, the offence bonanza is far from over!
RACE TO THE CROWN – EAST DIVISION
- Rimouski – Did the Oceanic finally put the Remparts away with their 3-0 win over Quebec on Tuesday? Rimouski looks unstoppable right now as they close in on the East Division title. The Oceanic (57 GP | 80 pts) hold two games in hand over the Remparts (59 GP | 73 pts) in addition to a seven-point cushion. The division rivals do however close out the season with a home-and-home series on March 20-21. The Oceanic is also still eyeing the Jean-Rougeau Trophy along with Blainville-Boisbriand (59 GP | 82 pts) and Moncton (58 GP | 81 pts).
THE RACE TO THE PLAYOFFS
- Overall standings – There is a fierce battle underway for the final few playoff spots (13-16). See the standings for yourself…
- Here is a look at two games that will be drawing a lot of attention this weekend:
- Cape-Breton (13th | 57 pts) vs Chicoutimi (15th | 54 pts) – Tomorrow night at the Georges-Vezina Centre, the margin of error will be slim for both sides as the No. 17 team (Drummondville | 51 pts) is still hanging around.
- Gatineau (16th | 51 pts) @ Acadie-Bathurst (18th | 36 pts) – Nothing will come easily for the Olympiques on Sunday afternoon as they wrap up a string of three road games in as many nights in New Brunswick after stops in Moncton and St. John. As for the Titan, should they stumble, they would officially miss the playoffs. They may be eliminated even sooner should Gatineau and Drummondville pick up wins over the weekend.
- Quick Reminder – Should two teams end up tied in points at season’s end, the first tie-breaker is total wins excluding those by way of shootout. If the team are still tied, it will come down to goal differential.
- If the playoffs started today… – With under a month to go until the start of the playoffs, here is what the opening round matchups would look like: Blainville-Boisbriand vs Gatineau | Moncton vs Chicoutimi | Rimouski vs Victoriaville | Quebec vs Cape Breton (who play tonight!) | Baie-Comeau vs Rouyn-Noranda | Sherbrooke vs Charlottetown | Shawinigan vs Val-d’Or | Saint John vs Halifax. Now those would be playoffs no one would want to miss!
BATTLE FOR THE JACQUES PLANTE TROPHY
- Philippe Desrosiers (Rimouski) – Even though he leads all QMJHL goalies with a 2.54 GAA, it’s going to come down to the wire for the coveted Jacques Plante Trophy this season. This also marks the first time an Oceanic netminder is in the mix for the goals against average award since the franchise was born in 1995-96. Desrosiers is also coming off a shutout in his last start against Quebec for his third whitewash of 2014-15.
- Too close to call – Samuel Montembeault (BLB | 2.63), Sebastien Auger (SNB | 2.74) and Marvin Cüpper (SHA | 2.81) are all breathing down Desrosiers’ neck and could even slip by him to win the award. Quick note: only goalies to have played in at least 40% of their team’s minutes on the season are eligible for the Jacques Plante Trophy.
- Since 2008… – It was exactly seven years ago that a goalie won the award with an average over 2.50 when Chicoutimi’s Bobby Nadeau won with a 2.63 GAA. Last year of course, Zachary Fucale then with the Mooseheads led the way with an impressive 2.26 GAA.
- Moncton – The Wildcats have won 20 games this season by a one-goal margin. The next closest team in that department is Sherbrooke (18).
- Conor Garland (Moncton) – He seems well on his way to earning player of the month honours thanks to his 23 points over the last nine games, five more points than teammate Ivan Barbashev who has 12 goals in February to bring his total to 36.
- Anthony DeLuca (Rimouski) – He’s been on a roll with 13 goals in his 11 games and is now only one goal away from No. 40. Now in his third QMJHL season, he has 196 points as he closes in on his 200th With 96 goals and 100 assists over his career, DeLuca has over a point per game average.
- Olivier Galipeau (Val-d’Or) – The 17-year-old d-man is enjoying the strongest stretch of his young career with a +14 rating in eight games, adding five points over that span to bring his total up to 18 on the year.
- Cavan Fitzgerald (Halifax) – With 27 points in 31 games this season, the 18-year-old rookie blue-liner is sure earning his ice-time. He spends a lot of time on the power-play where he picks up most of his points (20), specifically 74% to be exact. His lack of games played this season is due to an injury that sidelined him for October and November. Speaking of which, check out this the latest plays of the week where you’ll see the Mooseheads’ No. 5 doing his thing in a pair of tic-tac-toe plays he helped set up.
TIP OF THE CAP
- Val-d’Or Foreurs’ offence – For starters it’s balanced to say the least, which is a nightmare for their opponents. “You live by the sword, you die by the sword” certainly applies to his squad. On certain nights they find themselves in barnburner, high-scoring games that can go either way, which is their record is 15-12 in games decided by three goals or more. In their last game on Wednesday night, they won 7-3 over the Huskies to move themselves into the No. 9 spot for now. With now 64 points, the Foreurs can still aspire to earn home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs as they sit only three points back of Saint John and Shawinigan (67).
- Recent success – The Foreurs have won their last six straight, scoring 34 goals over that span for an average of 5.7 goals per game per 60 minutes played.
- The 60-point mark – With five players with 60-or-more points in their lineup, no other team can compare. Have a look at them below…
- Julien Gauthier – With 37 goals, he is one of three 30-goal men on the Foreurs along with Anthony Richard (36) and Nikolas Aube-Kubel (30). It’s worth noting that 62% of Gauthier’s offence has come at even strength and his scoring percentage is 17.5% (37 goals on 211 shots). He also will not be eligible for the NHL Draft until 2016.
- Anthony Beaurgard – He’s quite the playmaker. With 53 assists in 58 games he is ranked 4th in the QMJHL. He also leads his team with 78 points.
- Pierre-Maxime Poudrier – Regarded in recent years for his defensive skills, the Foreurs’ captain has seen his role change a bit this season and it’s given his production a serious boost. He now has 65 points in 58 games, including 25 goals.
- 243 goals – That’s how many goals Mario Durocher’s squad has piled up so far this season. The league’s highest scoring team of course earns the Luc Robitaille Trophy. Last year the Foreurs were also the league’s top-scoring club at season’s end with 306 goals. Since the trophy was introduced in 2001-02, only two teams have managed to win it back-to-back (Saint John and Baie-Comeau).
- Philippe Cadorette (Baie-Comeau) – Since Saturday Cadorette has been the new league record holder for career regular season shutouts with 16. That’s even more impressive when you consider he’s only played in 175 games, meaning he’s notched a shutout every 11 games! Next on his list is the mark for most shutouts in the regular season and playoffs combined. He now has 21 while Adam Russo holds the record with 22.
- Serge Beausoleil (Rimouski) – The Oceanic head coach has had the chance to coach some special groups of players since arriving in Rimouski in 2011. The recently-turned 48-year-old is poised to post his fourth-straight 40-victory season with his Oceanic now at 37 wins. Only four QMJHL coaches have ever managed that feat: Ghislain Delage (six seasons – record), Patrick Roy (five), and behind them all tied at four are Michel Therrien, Eric Veilleux and Jean-François Houle. Next season, Beausoleil will most certainly become the winningest coach in Oceanic history as his 162 wins in 258 games rank not too far behind all-time leader Doris Labonté with 177.
- Zachary Fucale (Quebec) – His next appearance in the blue paint will mark his 200th QMJHL game. Only 10 goalies in league history that dates back to 1969 have ever managed that.
- Nikolaj Ehlers (Halifax) – Yep, he’s still streaking. His epic run continues as his point streak is now at 33 games, placing it at No. 20 all-time tied with the legendary Jacques Jr Locas and former Sags player, Patrice Tremblay.
- Timo Meier (Halifax) – Ehlers’ partner in crime with the Mooseheads is on a tear of his own with a 27-game point streak ranking him 45th all-time tied with François Lecomte, Stéphane Richer and Mathieu Perreault. With 78 points in 51 games, the Swiss-born Meier sure has scouts talking as the NHL Draft draws closer. Meier is expected an upper opening round pick. The fact that of his 39 goals ten of them are game-winners this season surely doesn’t hurt, either.