Montreal Canadiens AHL Affiliate | Laval Rocket News: A Review of Noah Juulsen’s Season, Video Analysis of Final Game
ROCKET SPORTS MEDIA | LAVAL, QC. — After an injury-ridden 2018-19 season, this year was supposed to be a fresh start for Noah Juulsen. The young Canadiens defenceman took two pucks in the face in the first period of the November 19th, 2018 game versus the Capitals. “The first one, I think I was fine. The second one I think was what did all the damage,” described Juulsen.
He played four more games with the Canadiens and three with the Rocket before being sidelined for the remainder of the year with a vision-related issued. Juulsen finished the year with a total of 24 games in the NHL and AHL.
“It was a kind of a freak thing you know, it’s two pucks to the face and all that, but you know as of right now, I’m going home knowing I’m healthy and I’m cleared, I’m good to go for next season,” said optimistically the defenseman.
Headed into this season’s training camp, Juulsen was a strong candidate to earn a spot on the right defence of the third pairing behind Shea Weber and Jeff Petry.
The first day of camp on-ice was on Friday, September 13th, and it wasn’t a lucky day for Juulsen. He was part of group ‘A’, on a pairing with Xavier Ouellet, on what would be his only day at camp. Five days later, Juulsen was consulting a specialist in Michigan to obtain a second opinion on his headaches.
Juulsen started skating on his own on September 28th, and was assigned to the Rocket on October 11th. He made his season debut two weeks later, and played 12 of the next 13 games. Following the match against Syracuse on November 29th, Juulsen was suffering from headaches once again, which forced him to miss the next 38 games.
Juulsen returned to practice with teammates on February 20th, 82 days after his previous game. The team and it’s medical staff didn’t try to rush the defenceman back into the lineup. It was a wise decision considering the recent medical history.
After nearly three weeks of practice, Juulsen received the clearance to return to play on March 11th, in a game versus the Belleville Senators. The Rocket shutout their division rivals 3-0, bringing them to within four points of a playoff spot.
“Very excited. First of all, to have Noah on the ice. I think this guy has been through so much adversity for last couple years. I mean, his goal is to play in the NHL, and to be an NHL defenseman for years and to have that adversity, take the toll on you,” said Joel Bouchard.
In his return, Juulsen was on the ice for 22 shifts with a total ice time of 17:49 taking two shots on goal and a plus-1 rating. The coach placed Juulsen on the top pairing with Otto Leskinen.
“The first five minutes were a little shaky, but it’s gonna take a bit to get my game going again,” said Juulsen after the game. It was expected after not playing for nearly four months.
During the opening sequence, Juulsen fanned on the puck on his first touch. The result ended up being positive as it ended up as a scoring chance for Kevin Lynch.
On his next shift, Juulsen lost his footing in his own zone that allowed Parker Kelly get to the crease for a scoring chance against Cayden Primeau.
Later in the period, Juulsen wasn’t able to control Jake Lucchini‘s pass behind his own net, that generated a turnover and allowed the Senators to hold the puck in the zone.
As the period progressed, we saw Juulsen get more comfortable. In the first sequence below, Juulsen did a good job protecting the puck and got it out of the zone with a pass to Joe Cox. In the second clip, Juulsen skated with the puck behind Primeau’s net and made a pass to Antoine Waked, who was able to get out of the zone with possession.
Juulsen was physically involved early into the game. Only 2:30 into the period, Juulsen went into the corner with Joseph LaBate. LaBate is 6-foot-5-inches and weighs 213 pounds.
“I think it just turned out that way,” said Juulsen on whether he selected the opponent. “Obviously being physical is part of my game, but you don’t know, don’t really look at who’s who’s there and the size of them usually.”
With 1:17 remaining in the first period, Juulsen delivered a hit on Vitaly Abramov deep in the offensive zone.
In his first shift of the middle frame, Juulsen was on the receiving end of a questionable hit by Jordan Szwarz behind his own net. The referee Tyson Stewart saw the play and didn’t think it earned an infraction. Or did he miss it?
“I think obviously, it was from behind a little, but you know, I talked to the ref and he said he was just turning behind the play pivoting and you know, he just missed it. And you know that happens in this league for sure,” commented Juulsen.
The hit didn’t impact his performance as we can see below his pass from Belleville’s blue line to Alexandre Alain led to a shot on goal.
Juulsen created another offensive opportunity as his long pass from Laval’s faceoff circle to Alain waiting on the Senators blue line led to pressure in the opponent’s zone.
In the third period, Nicholas Baptiste got a pass through Juulsen that led Parker Kelly to head on a breakaway. Leskinen’s defensive work prevented Kelly from taking a shot on goal.
With Laval leading 2-0 in the final period, Juulsen poked the puck out from Filip Chlapik’s stick, that Lucchini was able to pick up and carry into the Senators zone.
Bouchard trusted Juulsen in the final moments of the game when Belleville had pulled the goalie for the extra attacker. In the sequence below, Juulsen separated Darren Archibald from the puck and directed it to Lucchini, that was able to clear it out of the zone and straight onto the post.
“We didn’t give that much, he was on the ice for a few minutes and he did okay,” said Bouchard on using Juulsen in the final moments of an important game. “That’s just to tell you how valuable he can be for us, but how much we like him. He’s earned everything he’s got so far with the commitment he’s done as he was not playing, to stay in shape and be ready, when the call would come in.”
“I think he was moving the puck and I’m sure he he needs a few games to settle in. Most of us have been there where you sit out a few games and it just it’s going to take some time for him but he look good for his first game,” said Gustav Olofsson. During his career, Olofsson has had his share of injury absences.
“You could just see the character he has, the type of guy he is, the effect he has in the dressing room and just even learning tonight just how much he affects us. Everybody in the dressing room’s behind him, the coaching staff’s behind him, and I didn’t even realize how big of a part of the team he was until he steps in the lineup and he has that effect on the dressing room. It’s pretty cool to watch,” said Joseph Blandisi.
It was an encouraging game for the Canadiens prospect. If it wasn’t for his battle with recurring headaches, I think we would have seen Juulsen get some playing time with Montreal this season.