Many Lewiston fans feel dread when they hear the name Jeremy Duchesne. It was he who helped Halifax defeat the Maineiacs last season in six games in Round 1, twice standing on his head to do so.

This season, his numbers aren’t as gaudy as those of Lewiston starter Jonathan Bernier. His goals-against average of 3.33 and his save percentage of .897 are good for 10th and eighth, respectively, in the league.

But what might surprise local fans are his numbers against Lewiston. And no, they are not super-human.

Duchesne is 9-9 all-time against the Maineiacs. He has saved 92 percent of the 613 shots the team has taken against him, and his goals-against-average hovers around 2.75 against Lewiston.

Bernier is the Los Angeles Kings’ goalie of the future. The Kings took Bernier at No. 11 overall in the first round in 2006.

Duchesne was drafted in the fourth round of the 2005 NHL draft at No. 119 overall by the Philadelphia Flyers, and at age 20, will play professionally next season.

This season, the Maineiacs beat Duchesne the only time they saw him with Val d’Or, and won three of four games against him with Halifax, but did so scoring just 13 goals in five games.

Peter Delmas started both games against Val d’Or. Bernier has not faced the Foreurs this season.

Lewiston PP vs. Val d’Or PK

The Maineiacs’ power play struggled for the better part of February, and seemed static and easy to predict.

So the team worked on it. And worked. And worked. And worked some more.

Now, in the playoffs, the Maineiacs’ play with the extra attacker has picked up. They are at 28 percent for the playoffs, third among the teams that made it. In fact, 23 of the Maineiacs’ 58 goals scored during the playoff have come on the power play.

Val d’Or, meanwhile, has held its own on the penalty kill, especially given that the Foreurs had to face the league’s top power play in the playoffs in Cape Breton.

The Foreurs have allowed 17 goals while shorthanded, killing off 82.8 percent of the opposing team’s chances, second among playoff teams.

The Foreurs are stacked with great offensive talent, and have two of the better defensemen in the league, but penalty-killing was not their forte during the regular season, finishing sixth with 81.6 percent.

Lewiston’s power play finished 12th of 18 teams in the regular season, but was on fire down the stretch. In its final eight regular-season contests, Lewiston went 14-for-51, a 27.5 percent clip.

Lewiston’s forwards vs. Val d’Or’s defense

Speed kills. It has killed every opponent the Maineiacs have faced so far. None of the playoff teams’s defensemen could match up against any of Lewiston’s speedy forwards. That has led to some severe mismatches down low.

Val d’Or has two of the best mobile defensemen in Kristopher Letang and Sebastien Bisaillon. Beyond them, however, the Foreurs rely heavily on muscle and intimidation on the blue line.

It is likely that the Foreurs will split their top two D-men in 5-on-5 play to try and match up against Lewiston’s depth.

Lewiston, meanwhile, has done well to spread out the offense so far in the playoffs, with eight players scoring more than 10 points in 13 games.

The cycle down low has mixed up other teams’ defensemen and even their forwards, who fall back to help out. Val d’Or is going to have to figure out a way to slow Lewiston down, or reduce the time Lewiston spends inside the Foreurs’ zone.

Lewiston, meanwhile, will need to take advantage of its opportunities, especially when Bisaillon and Letang are off for a rest.

Coaching

Maineiacs’ bench boss Clement Jodoin is a tactician. He lives and dies by his systems. Those systems have served him well as he’s built his team over a three-year period to be a machine within those teachings.

He has twice earned a gold medal as part of the coaching staff for Team Canada’s National Junior Team, and Jodoin brings with him a large resume that includes stops with three NHL franchises, an AHL team and two QMJHL teams, including Lewiston.

One knock against Jodoin is that his teams never advanced to the Memorial Cup, coming the closest in 1997 when the Halifax Mooseheads lost in the divisional final to Chicoutimi in Game 7.

Eric Lavigne, meanwhile, is looking to prove his critics wrong. After three seasons with the Quebec Remparts, Lavigne was ousted less than 20 games into the 2005-06 season by his boss, Remparts’ owner Patrick Roy. The Hall-of-Fame goaltender took over himself, and led the team to a Memorial Cup.

Later that season, Lavigne took over for fired Val d’Or coach Claude Bouchard and in 41 games, went 17-22-0-2 as the Foreurs’ coach.

This season, Lavigne guided his team to a 41-23-4-2 mark, taking first place in the Telus Division.


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