Canadiens’ Poehling Finally Finding His Game in Laval

Ryan Poehling had a terrible season last year while bouncing between the Montreal Canadiens and their farm team, the Laval Rocket – it was his first full season as a pro, and many had doubts he would amount to anything. One year later, Poehling is one of the top scorers in Laval and quickly turning some heads.

Poehling’s Up and Down Season

Poehling spectacularly burst onto the Canadiens scene, scoring a hat trick and the shootout winner in a win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in the final game of the 2018-19 season, leading to many high hopes he would be on the Habs roster to start the season the following year. Unfortunately, after not making the team out of training camp last season and then having an abysmal season overall between both the Canadiens and the Laval Rocket, Poehling looked destined to be a first-round bust.

Ryan Poehling Montreal Canadiens
Ryan Poehling, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Poehling’s rough year had many factors, and the main one was him being bounced between the Canadiens and the Rocket most of the season and not having the opportunity to find consistency. Poehling only scored two points in 27 games with the Canadiens, playing mostly as a winger on the fourth line; in Laval, he played his normal position at center but could only muster 13 points in 36 games. Poehling himself is also partly to blame for his play. He was openly upset about being sent to Laval after training camp and not making the Canadiens; there is no evidence that his attitude was a factor, but not playing on a consistent line or team seems more likely to be a major issue in his development.

Poehling Shows Up Out of Shape for Playoffs

Poehling found himself on the Black Aces for the playoff bubble last season, giving him a chance to practice and work out with the Canadiens throughout their playoff run. As the playoffs went on, Poehling was not used at all – Jake Evans and Alex Belzile saw time and Charles Hudon did after Brendan Gallagher broke his jaw, but Poehling didn’t get the call.

Translation: Charles Hudon, Alex Belzile, Jordan Weal, Dale Weise and Jake Evans will all have played in the playoffs, and Ryan Poehling not. If the young man doesn’t get the message now, he’ll never get it. It would have been a good idea for him to train during confinement. 

It’s not hard to figure out why Poehling didn’t get any game action. The rumour was he showed up out of shape from not training during the lockdown. This wasn’t very reassuring to the organization and gave reason to believe that Poehling wasn’t taking his career seriously. It wasn’t too long before this that Poehling was disappointed about not making the Canadiens out of camp, and his poor season put lots of fuel on the ‘he’s lazy with a big ego’ fire. Whether Poehlings attitude was an issue or not last season, he needed to put that all behind him the season and prove to the doubters he is everything the Canadiens drafted in a player.

Poehling Starts Cold but Is Finishing Hot

Poehling came into this season with a tough hill to climb, and he needed to have a hot start to put last season behind him and return to the good graces of the fans and media. Poehling didn’t make the Canadiens roster and started the season in Laval, not with the taxi squad. This was a good move because it would give Poehling and chance to get the puck on his stick and hone his skills under Laval head coach Joel Bouchard. He wouldn’t get the hot started everyone wanted him to have as he only scored four points in his first ten games, but then the magic of Bouchard would consume him.

After the slow start, Poehling went on a tear for the Laval Rocket and score 21 points in his next 18 games and help the Rocket to an impressive 22-5-2 record. Poehling currently leads the team in goals with 11 and points with 25, putting him 14th and 12th in the league respectively. Poehling’s season can be attributed to the effort he is putting into his game and the fact that he is getting the ice time and as mentioned before the puck on his stick. If you look at his career so far, this is only his second pro season – he learned from his mistakes last season and management finally put him in a position to succeed.

The Laval season isn’t over yet but Poehling turning around his game gives a lot of hope to the fans and organization that the Canadiens made the right choice in selecting him in the 2017 draft. Habs management will have some hard decisions to make next season due to the sudden depth available when it comes to the centre position, and Poehling isn’t making things any easier.

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