Backup goalie Mark Visentin will start in net the next time the Portland Pirates take the ice – on Friday at Binghamton.
That’s because starter Chad Johnson is nursing a lower-body injury suffered in last Sunday’s game and is considered “day-to-day” according to Pirates Head Coach Ray Edwards.
Visentin relieved Johnson in Sunday’s game and stopped all 21 shots he faced.
Meanwhile, forward Jordan Schwarz, who has been sidelined because an upper-body injury for a week, also won’t play Friday.
-- Asked to name the team’s MVP over the first 20 games, Edwards without hesitation said captain Alex Bolduc.
“He’s touching every part of the game,” Edwards said. “He’s killing penalties, he’s scoring on the power play, he’s going against top units every night. He’s our captain so he’s got a lot of responsibility, and he’s taking it all head-on. He competes so hard every night. He’s been a very competitive guy, of course, and a productive guy.”
Bolduc leads the team with 12 goals and 26 points.
-- Forward Phil Lane has impressed Edwards in his rookie AHL season.
“Phil is a guy that we find we need in the lineup every night, and as a young player that’s a heck of a thing to say,” Edwards said. “We have a lot of trust in him; he touches the PK, 5-on-5, defensive situations. He’s a heavy player and he can play against heavy guys, so he’s been a pretty nice surprise.”
-- Defenseman David Rundblad failed to score a goal in his first 14 games of the season. Since then, he has scored four goals in his last five games.
“I think that’s a byproduct of David defending better,” Edwards said. “It’s also a byproduct of his off-season work and of him playing the way he needs to play. David has a unique set of offensive abilities and there’s not many players that have those abilities, and he may not do it the way everyone expects him to do it, as far as defending and those things, but he’s very effective and we have to embrace the way he does it and help him with the way he does it and try to make him as effective with the way he does it. He’s certainly shown down here that he can be a top offensive defenseman in this league. We’re still continually working with him on defending and gaps and his compete level in the defensive zone, but those areas, we see improvement there. So, I’m really happy with David’s first 20 games, but it’s important for him as the league starts to get better to continue to get better.”
-- Coyotes Associate Coach Jim Playfair and Goaltending Coach Sean Burke are in Portland this week helping Edwards and his staff.
“It’s always nice to have them around and it’s good for the players down there to see that they’re here and have an interest in what’s going on,” Edwards said.
-- The Pirates will enter this weekend with a 10-9-1-1 record.
“We really like our group,” Edwards said. “We like the way they work and compete, and we feel like the whole group is finding ways to get better and learning. We’re struggling with a little bit of consistency right now, which I think we sort of felt like we probably would. Our discipline has got to get a little bit better. We’ve taken too many penalties. And we’d like to continue to defend better and keep our goals against down. If we can do those things then we’ll be a lot more consistent team.”
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