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NORTH AMERICAN ANALYSIS: OTTAWA LYNX

by Thor Ludvigsen, VHL.com

 

In the previous edition of this weekly article, we focused on the Minot Gladiators. Having seen them play and read about who they have on their roster, I think we can all agree that the Gladiators are horrendous. Sporting little in the way of talent, Minot seems to purposely seek terrible players. I am sure General Manager Zack Gagnon tries his best, but clearly, his best is just not enough at this point in time. No offense intended, obviously.

 

Luckily, however, this week we turn our attentions to the Ottawa Lynx. The most hyped up team heading into the season, General Manager Jim Gow's Ottawa squad has been disappointing thus far, though they seem to be turning it around as of late, rattling off six straight wins. In spite of their troubles, they clearly do not lack talent and the losses early on can likely be attributed to two things: chemistry and goalie play. At 20-5-2, the Lynx sit in third place in the North American Conference, eight points out of first place. Now, why not take a look at their lineup?

 

Forwards

In a word, Ottawa is "loaded" on offense. Sporting a stunning six players with 100 practice hours to their name, the Lynx have what is undeniably the most talented forwards on paper. Out of their forwards, the two best players are certainly center Thomas O'Malley and winger Andrew Erikson. O'Malley, born in Boston, currently leads the team in points with 69. Of those 69 points, 34 of them are goals, meaning the other 35 are from assists. This impressive split is a definite representation of O'Malley's offensive awareness and skill. He knows when to shoot and he knows when to pass and whichever option he chooses seems to always be a resounding success. Lining up next to O'Malley is Andrew Erikson, born in Denmark. A strong passer and puck handler, Eriksen is hot on O'Malley's tail for the team lead in points with 65, of which 43 are assists. The most amazing part of this duo is that both O'Malley and Eriksen line up on Ottawa's second line, so their point production is more indicative of their fantastic chemistry with one another, rather than the amount of time they spend on the ice. O'Malley is a Season 40 draft prospect, while Eriksen was selected by the Helsinki Titans in the recent Season 39 VHL Entry Draft. Alongside these two on the second line is Aelred Leskowsky. A career minor leaguer, Leskowsky is a strong skater and has a true scorer's touch, though he does not have a great work ethic, thus he is far less talented than many of his Ottawa teammates. In spite of that, he still has an impressive 37 points on the year.

 

While the second line is certainly impressive, the first line of the Lynx is no slouch either. Led by American winger James Faraday, the first line's production is less than the second line and has taken a bit to click, but their talent is undeniable. With 47 points on the year, Faraday leads the line in points and is also one of the most developed players in the VHLM with 202 practice hours to his name. An incredibly gifted scorer, Faraday has 20 goals on the year. Lining up alongside Faraday is Danish center Aksel Thomassen. With 37 points on the year, Thomassen has been impressive this season, after struggling to create chemistry with Faraday early on in the year. A strong skater and face-off taker, Thomassen makes for an ideal linemate to Faraday, as well as winger Leo Tesla, who is the final member of the first line. Born in Finland, Tesla is a good handler of the puck and also has a fantastic wrist shot, though his low goal count of 13 this season is indicative of him playing tentatively this season. Even when he gets a good shot opportunity, Tesla seems to defer to Faraday and has lacked the confidence to be a true goal scoring threat for Ottawa thus far. On the year, Tesla has a disappointing 27 points, though he certainly has room to grow.

 

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Defense

After a stunningly impressive forward crew, any defense trotted out by Ottawa will be a let down in terms of talent. However, in spite of that, their defensive unit has to be one of the best in the league. Led by Season 40 prospect Jerrick Poole, the Lynx defense does not have a ton of players, but the talent of the first two makes up for that lack of depth. This season, Poole has 35 points, a +17 +/-, 31 hits, and 54 blocked shots. Overall, these stats are not amazing, but are certainly impressive for a player as young as Poole. Next to Poole is veteran Jack Ryan. Known for his appearances in many films, such as The Hunt for Red OctoberThe Sum of All Fears, and the recent Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Ryan also moonlights as a VHL hockey player. As it happens, the action movie star is not a bad hockey player and certainly plays a key role for Ottawa, given their lack of defensive depth. With 26 points, a +21, 84 hits, and 38 blocked shots, to his name this season, Ryan is clearly not afraid to get physical and brings a certain toughness that really completes this Lynx squad nicely. Ottawa has two other defensemen, Mike Jones and LaMichael Charmander, but neither play huge roles, nor do they have any practice hours. As a result, they are on the roster solely to allow Poole and Ryan to rest from time to time.

 

Goalie

In net, Ottawa has Soren Douffet. Born in Belgium, expectations were low for Douffet entering the season, but he has still found a way to not live up to them. Blessed with a great defense and killer offense, Douffet's errors in goal are typically offset, but can still come back to haunt Ottawa down the line, especially if he screws up in a crucial game. One of the worst goalies in the VHLM, Douffet has 48 practice hours to his name and is able to control most rebounds, but beyond that, he contributes very little, if anything. His win-loss record, great goals against average, and low goals allowed, stats are a clear representation of the talented players in front of him, rather than any talent he himself may possess. The best assessment of his actual skill is his save percentage, which currently sits at 85.9%, the second worst in the league. If you manage to get a shot on goal against this young European, you have a strong chance of having it slip past him and hit the back of the net. If he continues to struggle, look for Ottawa to try to find a replacement for him. Douffet is a good prospect for the future, but as of now, he is a major weakness on what is a fantastic squad.

 

Overall

Contrary to Minot last week, Ottawa has many huge strengths. They have a fantastic offensive attack, great offensive depth, and great defenders. They do lack depth on defense and a good goalie, but as long as their offense is clicking and their top defenders do their job, those weaknesses can be hidden or entirely offset. However, they will undeniably hold back this squad from winning the Founders Cup. If Ottawa wants to lift the trophy at the end of the year, they need Douffet to pick up his game a bit and to find at least one additional defender who can play good minutes and let Poole and Ryan rest easy.

 

1,281 words

Edited by Spangle
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Guest Svoboda_3

Content: 3/3

1,281 words. A real solid article on the Ottawa Lynx and their entire roster consisting of strengths and weaknesses, although the weaknesses are so minor. Your writing was near perfect and the flow and interest was so good. There was a lot of effort put into this. Looking forward to the Saskatoon Wild edition.

Grammar: 2/2

by = By

draft = Draft

let down = letdown

Founders = Founder's

Appearance: 1/1

Looks good.

Overall: 6/6

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