Daniel Lacroix is learning on the fly.
The longtime NHL Asst Coach has the daunting task to get know player tendencies and personalities while building trust and chemistry amongst the group.
Lacroix’s job doesn’t get any easier considering all the new faces that are coming into the mix.
Everything is new. It’s a fresh start for everyone.
Lacroix is trying to balance all these aspects while trying to implement his systems and philosophies under extreme championship expectations.
That has to be stressful, but very exciting at the same time.
If you think about it, it’s a great problem to have, especially when you have arguably the most talented roster in the QMJHL and potentially the country.
Creating A Bond
All championship teams possess it!
It’s the one intangible all great teams have, that can never be taken away.
The Moncton Wildcats and Daniel Lacroix are in search of forming a championship bond and it all starts with building trust and chemistry.
One could only assume the search for chemistry has to be of the utmost importance for the Moncton Wildcats organization as they embark on the second half of the season.
In an interview with Wildcats beat reporter Neil Hodge, Lacroix confessed of “relaying quite heavily on his assistants.”
One area that Lacroix will have to address is the Cats speciality teams moving forward.
Lacroix has the luxury of possessing the best top six forward group in the QMJHL.
Nevertheless, that still might not translate into to success on the power play when you could potentially throw new faces into the rotation.
It’s still unclear if Lacroix will elect to use a two defencemen scheme or a four forward one d-man approach.
As of right now Lacroix has enough offensive talent at his disposal to run both quite effectively.
You see Daniel Lacroix’s most difficult task will undoubtedly be the search for chemistry.
Lacroix will have to find the right balance when it comes to all his line combinations, but especially when it comes to speciality teams.
The search for chemistry will be critical for the Cats success moving forward.
As of right now the Cats have the 3rd best power play percentage in the league at 26.1% and the 4th best percentage(82.5%) on the penalty kill.
Obviously those are very respectable numbers and Lacroix could very well use the “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” approach, but I really can’t see that happening.
Lacroix will have his finger prints all over the Cats speciality teams moving forward.
Given the Cats recently acquired skill and tenacity up front one would automatically assume Benoit-Oliver Groulx and Gabriel Fortier have to be shoe ins for the man advantage.
Groulx is lethal in the bumper position and can rotate down to cause havoc in the net front presence role as well. Fortier is a perfect trigger and set up man from the half boards.
Throw “the Summmerside Sniper” Jeremy McKenna into the mix and the vision of Khovanov and passing and mobility of Jordan Spence and you have yourself a very dominant 1st power play unit!
Oh what about Jakob Pelletier Mika Cyr, Zachary L’Heureux, Eliot Desnoyers, Jared McIsaac or Axel Andersson?
Could that be your 2nd PP unit?
You see, it’s a great problem to have, but when you really need a power play goal in a big moment of the game, you can’t be second guessing your personnel.
You need to rely on that chemistry.
Would you take Fortier off the top unit and inject Pelletier into that role so Fortier is perhaps the trigger man on the 2nd unit.
There’s a lot of questions that will be answered soon enough when the dust settles and final Cats roster is solidified. Nonetheless, it would be very interesting to see how McIsaac and Andersson could run the second unit on the backend, with Mika Cyr, Jakob Pelletier and L’Heureux up front.
Personally I love seeing a two d set on any second unit to ensure a defensive cushion in case there’s prolonged pressure by the opponent after the power play runs out.
Lacroix will also have to find balance within the penalty killing role.
Is Lacroix a coach that doesn’t like to see his top guys kill penalties or does he allow them to get a feel for the game and give them some extra ice and responsibility.
Jeremy McKenna, Mika Cyr Jakob Pelletier, Benoit-Olivier Groulx, Gabriel Fortier Jacob Husdon and Elliot Desnoyers and Liam Leonard can all kill penalties.
What about D pairings on the PK and for even strength for that matter?
Lacroix and the Cats will face a lot of unique challenges along the way, especially during the early stages of their new relationship, the search for chemistry will be one of them.
The search for chemistry can only happen if the search for common ground, “buy in” and trust have already been established.
Sit back and enjoy the ride, when it’s all said and done this could be one the best Moncton Wildcat team ever assembled.