GLENDALE -- Coyotes prospect Alexandre Bolduc is thriving as captain of the Portland Pirates – aka Phoenix’s primary affiliate in the American Hockey League.
“Alex has been our rock throughout the first seven games,” Pirates Head Coach Ray Edwards said Monday. “He’s had an impact in every game. I don’t think there’s one game where he didn’t touch the game in some way. When he’s not scoring goals he’s playing hard and killing penalties and doing all the little things. We gave him the captaincy and he’s played like a captain in every game.”
Bolduc has notched a team-high 11 points and a team-high six goals in leading the Pirates to a 3-3-1 record. Only one other AHL player has more points and only two have more goals at this point.
“It’s definitely gone well for me, and for a lot of guys on the team,” Bolduc said. “Chris Conner, Andy Miele and Rob Klinkhammer, they’ve all gotten off to good starts as well. It’s easy (to play well) when everyone is firing on all cylinders. It’s fun to watch an be part of.”
He added, “I’m just playing the game the way I usually play it and fortunately goals are coming.”
After allowing 24 goals in their first four games, the Pirates have outscored opponents 10-5 in their past three games.
“We were expected to be a team that doesn’t allow a lot of goals against and it didn’t start off that way,” Bolduc said. “But we’ve learned from every game and we’re slowly starting to get to where we want to be defensively.”
Taking fewer penalties has helped the Pirates keep opponents from scoring.
“The league being the way it is with the lockout this year, there’s a lot of skill on every team and if you take penalties teams are going to make you pay now,” Bolduc said. “That’s one thing we’ve addressed, for sure, as well as communicating better in the defensive zone. The coaches have been on us about that and we’ve worked on it and improved.”
Portland has just one game on its schedule this week - a true home game at the Cumberland County Civic Center. The Pirates have played their first two “home” games in Lewiston, Maine, while the aforementioned civic center has undergone renovations.
“It’s a 45-minute drive from Portland, but once the games get going in Lewiston it definitely feels like a home game,” Bolduc said. “The fans in Lewiston so far have been amazing and it’s been a real good time playing in front of them.”
Bolduc spent Monday afternoon in Portland preparing for Hurricane Sandy to hit the eastern seaboard. He and roommates Miele and defenseman Mark Louis gathered water and candles and other supplies just in case the storm hits there home hard.
“It’s getting pretty crazy outside, and we live in a pretty old building and it’s creaking pretty loud and moving and shaking a little bit,” Bolduc said. “We’re definitely preparing to lose power but hopefully that doesn’t happen. I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.”
Defenseman Oliver-Ekman Larsson suffered an upper-body injury in Saturday’s game vs. Binghamton, but Edwards says he doesn’t expect Ekman-Larsson to be sidelined from many more games, if any. The Pirates next play on Friday vs. St. John’s.
Ekman-Larsson ranks third in the AHL with nine points in six games.
Edwards said forward Jordan Szwarz (one goal, four assists) has quietly played well this season.
“He missed Sunday’s game because of injury but he’s been very competitive and he’s been playing really hard on the puck,” Edwards said. “When I look at Jordan I think of Dave Tippett. I think once Dave gets to know Jordan and his game he’s really going to like him because he’s a reliable, trustworthy player. He’s like our version of (Coyotes center) Boyd Gordon. I just know I can trust him in every situation.”
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