Jean-François Houle was preparing to wrap up his press briefing at the end of Laval Rocket’s morning practice last Wednesday at Place Bell, before teammate Anthony Marcotte asked him a tough question.
With his bad habits back, do you believe Norlinder can return to the level of play he showed in training camp?
Smiling, Houle didn’t leave.
“Absolutely,” said the school club pilot.
But later he called a spade a spade. Norlinder struggled mightily during the Rockets’ last game, on Saturday, November 4th against the Toronto Marlies, finishing the night at -4.
“I didn’t like his last match,” he said. It was not included. He lost several battles. He’s the one holding the bat. There are possibilities. It’s up to him if he comes back.”
It won’t be Sunday afternoon in Winnipeg to recover, as Norlinder will be cut against the Manitoba Moose, as colleague Marcotte first reported.
A tough return to Earth for the Swede who came very close to securing a spot with the Canadians in October.
After 10 games, the 23-year-old defender has the worst difference in the American league, -13. Despite playing on the power play, he was limited to one goal and one assist.
Norlinder had some good moments confidently supporting the offense, but just like Logan Mailloux, he also looked poor in the defensive zone on certain occasions.
When Norlinder returned from Canadiens training camp, Houle identified consistency as an area for improvement.
“We are super happy for him that he had a good camp. Hopefully that will carry over here to Laval. There is also his consistency. It must have consistency. He cannot play two good games and four bad games. It has to be six games in a row that are solid,” he said clearly.
With several rookies and new faces in the lineup this year, the Rockets suffer from a lack of experience at the start of the season. The Laval team is in seventh and last place in the North division with a 2-7-1 record.