This past February was a good month for Philippe Desrosiers. The Rimouski Oceanic goaltender went on an epic tear, posting four straight shutout appearances and breaking the record for the longest streak without giving up a goal in the Quebec League by barring the door for 243:35 over the course of six games.
The Dallas Stars just sent Desrosiers back to the 'Q,' but that just means he'll have ample time to get his Oceanic to the top of the standings, where they hope to stay until the playoffs are over.
"The two past years we lost in the playoffs when we weren’t supposed to," he said. "This year we have the pressure and we need to win. We are ready for this and we have a good team, so we’ll battle.”
Rimouski was the unanimous No. 1 team in the QMJHL, according to the panel of insiders I surveyed and Desrosiers is one of several potent prospects on the roster. NHL first-rounders Samuel Morin (Philadelphia) and Frederik Gauthier (Toronto) also bolster the lineup of Sidney Crosby's old team and Desrosiers knows he doesn't work alone.
The affable netminder kicked off this season by helping the Dallas prospects get to the final of the eight-team Traverse City rookie tournament in Michigan, where they lost in overtime to Columbus. One thing that stood out was his Martin Brodeur-like willingness to play the puck and activate the rush. Though the pace of the tourney made that an adventure every once in a while, for the most part is was a great asset for Dallas.
“I like to play the puck," Desrosiers said. "But back in juniors it’s easier. Tracking the puck, directing my rebounds into the corner; that’s what I do best.”
As much fun as it is to hold a shutout streak, the Dallas pick didn't necessarily enjoy the process of getting the record – though it did allow him to wear his lucky tie, reserved for special occasions.
“It was always pressure on my mind, it was hard to focus on the next shot," he said. "But it was a good thing and my team helped me a lot. I was very happy.”
A big fan of Montreal's Carey Price, Desrosiers will be counted on to deliver the same sort of impact for the Oceanic this season. In a nice bit of motivation, the Memorial Cup will be hosted by the Quebec Remparts. Their coach is former NHLer Philippe Boucher, who also took over GM duties when Patrick Roy left for the Colorado Avalanche. Boucher's previous job was GM of Rimouski.
With the 'Q' getting two berths in the national classic, the Oceanic don't have to beat the Remparts to get in – but I'm sure they wouldn't mind doing it anyway.