‘You don’t perform, you don’t play’: Wranglers’ Jeremie Poirier scratched for second consecutive game
Photo credit:Candice Ward/Calgary Wranglers
By Mike Gould25 days ago
Calgary Wranglers head coach Mitch Love offered some pretty direct words on one of his young defencemen after Sunday’s 2–1 win over the Bakersfield Condors at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Jeremie Poirier, a 2020 third-round pick of the Calgary Flames and the top-scoring Wranglers defender this season, has now missed the last two games after being on the ice for a pair of Abbotsford Canucks goals in a 5–2 Wranglers loss last Monday.
After starting the season with three goals and 15 points in 18 games, Poirier has trailed off slightly in recent weeks despite the Wranglers’ continued success. He’s been held to one goal and six points in his last dozen outings and didn’t record a single shot in the setback against Abbotsford six days ago.
In conversation with the media on Sunday, Love made it clear he views Poirier as an integral piece for this Wranglers team but also stressed the need to keep his players in check when they begin to tail off.
“Yeah, he’s fine, he’s day-to-day right now,” Love said. “Last couple nights, we’ve had other guys that have played better hockey than him. We’ll see what our lineup is on Tuesday. You know, we talked about ‘next man up’ mentality, we’ve had guys step up in those roles.
“With our team here, it’s about accountability. You don’t perform, you don’t play, and that’s plain and simple,” Love continued. “Our guys know that internally. It makes us a competitive hockey team and that was a situation that’s happened there.
“Jeremie is a big part of our hockey team, he’s a good young player. He’s still learning what it takes to be a good young pro.”
The head coach has shown similar Tough Love to a few of the Wranglers’ younger players throughout the year, with encouraging results. Emilio Pettersen rebounded after being in and out of the lineup early on and is now in the midst of his best professional campaign to date; Yan Kuznetsov’s development has been more gradual and he’s had plenty of opportunities to watch from up top in his first full AHL season.
Poirier looked to be well on his way toward establishing himself as a full-fledged star in the AHL out of the gate, scoring the first goal in Wranglers history way back on October 16 and continuing to hum along at a solid pace through November and into December. When he returns, expect him to be leaned upon heavily at 5-on-5 and especially on the power play.
The Wranglers certainly didn’t put forth a perfect performance against the Condors on Sunday, eking out the win despite being outshot 36–23 and giving up more than a couple of grade-A scoring chances. Dustin Wolf was Mr. Reliable once again in the crease, stopping all but one of the Condors attempts he faced; Matthew Phillips picked up his league-leading 20th goal of the season to seal the win.
Heading into Tuesday’s rematch against Bakersfield at the Saddledome, the Wranglers have three clear areas for improvement: team defence, transitions, and their power play (which has gone 0-for-4 over the last two games). Poirier is capable of making a difference in all of those spaces.
Talking about his team’s struggles to get set on the man advantage against Bakersfield, Wranglers forward Ben Jones said “there’s not really an excuse” for their lack of execution but also pointed out the elephant in the room: “We’re missing two key guys.”
Jakob Pelletier has been a fixture on the Wranglers’ top power-play unit all year long, with fellow call-up Walker Duehr also getting reps with the team up a man. Those two players are unavailable for the time being as they begin well-deserved stints in the NHL.
But they still have Poirier, and he won’t be on the sidelines for long. When he does return to the Wranglers’ lineup, don’t be surprised if he does so with a vengeance.
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