Sunday, October 31, 2010


The Montreal Juniors have played 17 games this season and at this point it is safe to say the Louis Leblanc (seen in photo) trade has been a success.

On June 5th of this year the Montreal Juniors traded their 1st round pick in 2011 and Guillaume Asselin to the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in exchange for Chicoutimi's 3rd round pick in 2011 and the rights to Louis Leblanc. Note the word rights. This trade was no guarantee for Montreal because although the franchise had acquired Leblanc's rights, they still needed to do their part in convincing him to give major junior a shot and leave the hockey program at Harvard University.

When speaking with Leblanc the Juniors leaned heavily on the "pros" associated with playing in Montreal and in the QMJHL. Among those; a chance to play with a contender in the "Q" and an opportunity to get a taste of the pros and play a NHL-like 68 game schedule. Playing in Montreal also meant Leblanc would be playing in the backyard of the team that drafted him, the Montreal Canadiens.

Another bonus for the star centerman was being able to move closer to home. Leblanc was born and raised on the west end of the island of Montreal and his family still resides in the area.

Accepting the opportunity to play with Montreal also gave Leblanc a chance to reunite himself with a few old hockey buddies; Eliezer Sherbatov, Charles-Olivier Roussel and Philippe Lefebvre. Sherbatov played with Leblanc in their younger days. Roussel has participated in summer camps with Leblanc throughout the years. Lefebvre is a familiar face from the Montreal Canadiens development camps since he was signed by the Habs during the summer of 2009. Lefebvre and Leblanc have developed superb chemistry since day one. The two were united during Leblanc's first exhibition game vs. Shawinigan and they've played on the same line ever since.

Leblanc's number have been nothing short of expectations. Through 13 games played Leblanc has scored 9 goals, 11 assists and 20 points. Over a 68 game season this translates into 47 goals, 58 assists and 105 points. To put that into perspective, last year the QMJHL scoring leader was Sean Couturier at 96 points.

Leblanc has played consistent hockey for the Juniors. Of his 13 games played he has scored at least 1 point in 11 games. Only Moncton and PEI have been able to keep Leblanc off the score sheet.

Leblanc has also played very well in clutch situations. He participated in 3 shootouts and scored the winning goal in 2 of the 3 attempts.

His defensive play has been impressive. Leblanc is a +8 on the season and has only been a minus in 1 game this year when he was -1 in the season opener against Shawinigan, a 5-4 loss at home.

One area of Leblanc's game that needs improvement is his face off abilities. In 13 games Leblanc has won 140 / 285 face offs. That translates into a 49.12% winning percentage. While this isn't terrible by any means, it should still be a concern for Leblanc should he want to improve his chances of making the Montreal Canadiens within the next couple of seasons. At the NHL level much of the focus in the game today surrounds puck possession and this often begins in the face off circle. Leblanc's aim should be to bring his winning percentage up between 55% and 60% before the end of the season.

Next Friday night (November 5th) should be a good test for Leblanc and the rest of the Montreal Juniors as the Quebec Remparts will be visiting the Verdun Auditorium. The Remparts have a record of 14 wins, 1 regulation loss and 1 overtime loss. By contrast, the Juniors have 11 wins, 3 regulation losses and 3 overtime losses. By your ticket and enjoy the game!

Photo credit: Ron Lemish


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Last weekend was a success in many ways for the Montreal Juniors.

On Friday evening the team hosted a spaghetti dinner to raise money & support the battle against breast cancer. The dinner proved to be a success when over 200 fans showed up to participate at the event.

Fans had the opportunity to collect autographs and take pictures with their favorite Montreal Juniors. There was even an auction where the winner was able to eat dinner with the player of their choice.

Tap your sticks on the ice for a great cause! In other news.....

Injury Update:

After missing 8 games with a minor fracture to his jaw Charles Landry returned to the Juniors lineup this past Sunday and helped his team defeat the Drummondville Voltigeurs 6-3. Landry recorded 2 assists and was a +2 in the game.

Louis-Marc Aubry continues to nurse his knee which suffered a minor injury back in early October. Montreal won't rush him back into the lineup until the injury, which is believed to be a sprain, heals completely. Consider Aubry a "game day" decision to play against Quebec City in Montreal on November 5th.

Hungarian born Janos Hari is expected to return perhaps as soon as this Friday when Montreal travels to Baie Comeau for their first game of the season against the Drakkar. Hari hasn't been lucky with his health this year. Because he suffered from mononucleosis and then from his sprained ankle, Hari has been limited to playing only 2 games, scoring 2 goals and 1 assist for 3 points and a +2 plus/minus rating.

Photo credit: Ron Lemish


Wednesday, October 20, 2010


The Montreal Juniors will be well represented at this year's Subway Super Series. That's because 7 of Team QMJHL's 25 players are part of the Montreal Juniors franchise.

The Subway Super Series is an annual six game exhibition tournament held between a select team of Russian junior players and all-star teams representing the three leagues of the Canadian Hockey League.

Team QMJHL will play 2 games versus the Russians, first on Monday November 8th in Saint John, New Brunswick, and then on Wednesday November 10th in Drummondville, Quebec. The Montreal players named to the team include:

Goaltender: Jean-Francois Berube (19)

Defensemen: Charles-Olivier Roussel (19), Xavier Ouellet (17)

Forwards: Louis Leblanc (19), Philippe Lefebvre (19), Louis-Marc Aubry (19) and Trevor Parkes (19).

In order to manage the larger than usual roster certain players will participate in only one of the two games including Montreal Junior players Jean-Francois Berube and Philippe Lefebvre. Both players will suit up in Saint John but not in Drummondville.

The game will give Leblanc, Berube and Roussel another chance to shine in front of Canada's Junior National Team scouting staff. All three players participated at Team Canada's summer development camp (essentially part-1 of a try-out) and are eager to try and make the team for this winter's tournament.

Xavier Ouellet will also have a chance to show off his skill to NHL scouts who will be preparing for the 2011 NHL entry draft. Ouellet's name has shot up the charts ever since his production sky-rocketed this season. He is producing offence by rushing the puck, making strong outlet passes and by quarterbacking the power play. Ouellet is playing well defensively and has been the producer of a few big hits this year as well. To date he has 2 goals and 13 assists for 15 points in 13 games played.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010


The Montreal Juniors received a wake up call during their road trip out East last weekend. Playing three games in three nights started well with a 5-2 victory over the Halifax Mooseheads. But a 3-2 shootout loss to Moncton on Saturday followed by a 5-2 loss to the #1 ranked Saint John Sea Dogs on Sunday gave reason to raise some red flags.

Winning 5 straight games prior to the loss in Moncton, the Juniors were playing consistently well. However as well as they were playing, the majority of their victories came against average teams. Having a chance to beat Moncton and Saint John in their own buildings would have been a major statement and could have given Montreal the #1 ranking status in the Q.

So what went wrong? Who failed to step up and play their best when it mattered most? Here's my suggestion; secondary scoring;

Montreal's #1 scoring line (Lefebvre / Leblanc / Chouinard) has been nothing short of excellent since the beginning of the year. Lefebvre has 15 pts in 10 gp, Leblanc has 14 pts in 8 gp, and Chouinard has 12 pts in 12 gp. The line's production was sound even during the team's Eastern road swing as they scored 7 of 9 Montreal goals. While this great news for Montreal's #1 line, it doesn't speak well of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th units.

David Rose has been a bright spot for this team. Rose started the season on the 3rd line playing with Philippe Fontaine and Denis Kindl. But after a hot start (10 pts in 12 gp) Juniors coach Pascal Vincent has given him more of a second line type role.

Fontaine has produced a nice amount of offence (7 pts in 12 gp) especially given that he was pencilled in as a 3rd or 4th liner for this season. Rose and Fontaine have demonstrated they share chemistry and will likely be kept together as the season continues.

Now lets talk about the players who need to give more.

Jeremy Gouchie (seen in photo) led the Juniors in points last season, scoring 65 pts in 67 games played. Back then Gouchie had 1st line playing time and played on the 1st power play trio. This season Gouchie is off to a slow start with only 7 pts in 12 gp. His production, and efforts at times, has been at a level far below what he's capable of. When everyone is healthy Gouchie plays on the second line with Trevor Parkes and Louis-Marc Aubry, a trio that should be capable of scoring 1 goal per game at a minimum. But that hasn't been the case. Bottom line, Gouchie needs to get going.

Surprisingly, Trevor Parkes hasn't been much better. Parkes missed a handful of games at the start of the season after attending the Red Wings training camp and looked great after his return scoring 2 goals in his first 2 games. But since then Parkes' production has been limited to 1 goal and 2 assists in 6 gp. Another cause for concern has been Parkes' plus minus rating. Parkes is currently +1 on the season. Last year, on a weaker Montreal Juniors team, Parkes finished at +19, therefore he is far off the pace based on last seasons' results. Bottom line, the Juniors need more out of Parkes.

There's a similar situation on defense. Xavier Ouellet (14 pts in 12 gp) has been nothing short of spectacular and is proving why he should be considered one of the top prospects to come out of the Q for next year's NHL entry draft.

Francis Meilleur has also played very well and provided Montreal with a stable flow of offense coming from the back end. Meilleur has 8 pts in 12 gp.

Where there is room for improvement is with Charles-Olivier Roussel who currently has no goals, 5 assists and is a -1 in 9 games played. For a player of his caliber, that's terrible, and I'm sure Roussel himself would be the first person to admit it. Last season Roussel dominated the Q scoring 15 goals and 51 points in 64 games played. He's obviously far off that pace. But what concerns me more than Roussel's point production is that his defensive play. Roussel has made a few errors while handling the puck in his own zone which has led to unneeded goals. Often these mistakes are made after the forwards have already left the zone and he's one of the last 2 players between the opponents and his net. Bottom line, if the Juniors want to be a true contender Roussel has to be better.

Photo credit: Ron Lemish