Lauridsen Leading Lehigh Valley's Defense With Simple Game

Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Oliver Lauridsen leads all Lehigh Valley Phantoms defensemen with a plus four rating this season.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms are looking to make a push towards the postseason in the midst of a season-high five game road trip and three games in the Phantoms are 3-0 and starting to build confidence that they can sneak into the playoffs with 16 games left on their schedule.

The reason for the success lately has been due to solid goaltending and an attention to team defense, even with defenseman Brandon Manning being recalled by Phildelphia before the start of the road trip.

With Manning in the NHL, the Phantoms brought up defenseman Maxim Lamarche from their ECHL affiliate in Reading and formed a top-six defense core that has stuck together the last three games:
Adam Comrie - Mark Alt
Robert Hagg - Jesper Pettersson
Oliver Lauridsen - Maxim Lamarche
The Phantoms defensemen have all stepped up on this road trip. Adam Comrie is in the midst of a four-game points scoring streak (three goals, three assists), while guys like Oliver Lauridsen and Maxim Lamarche are impressing by making the simple plays in the game - keeping the puck out of dangerous areas of the ice in the defensive zone and getting the puck out of the zone as quickly and efficiently as possible.

I caught up with Lauridsen Saturday night in Bridgeport after the team's 4-2 win - a game where Lauridsen capped the scoring with a shorthanded empty net goal from his own end in the final minute of play.

A quick Q-&-A format of the transcribed post-game interview below:

Lauridsen on the team's attention to detail on defense during the road trip:
We got Mandog called up there, so we had to shake the pairings up a bit. I thought guys took that to heart and really simplified the game and I think it actually ended up helping us out by simplifying stuff and just making the hard simple plays going north with it as soon as we can, just keeping it simple.
On forming pairing with Maxim Lamarche:
Maxim has come in and played really well I think. I've played with him before, so there's a little bit of chemistry from before but it's definitely worked out - especially on this road trip. He's stepped in, lots of good chatter on the ice and finding the chemistry is always helpful.
The push towards playoffs:

This is a good start. We have a team commitment to making a push for it and taking it one period at a time and just focusing on being the best team that we can be. I actually thought over the stretch of three games right now we did a really good job of pushing the pace and sticking with a team game and a commitment to getting pucks deep. Keeping it really simple and playing our game, so to speak. Not worrying too much about what the other team is doing out there and it's been successful for us.

Team bonding on the road trip:
It's always important for a team to sometimes get on the road and get away from home and get this road grind in - something to rally around and we took that to heart too. We spent hours after hours on the bus here. 

Happy with the start, but not fully satisfied:
No, we can't rest now. Now we enjoy this weekend for a couple hours on the bus and then it's back to work as soon as we get back. We're not fooling anybody, we have to make more of a push than this to get into the playoffs.
Rewarding to get the empty netter, 195 feet:
It was one of those plays where they took a timeout and they have been kind of shutting the wall off on us in the d-zone face-offs all night. I kind of said to the boys that we should probably try to just fire something up the middle especially with a guy in the penalty box and no icing. There's nothing to lose, we can just fire it up there - even if it misses the net then one of the forwards could maybe get in a foot race and win it. Felt like it was a win-win situation for us.
It's always nice to get a goal. I mean, it's an empty netter so its more of a team thing just the re-assurance that we didn't have to go to overtime. 


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