Fished out of the pond late, here is a piece on Gatineau coach Benoit Groulx from last Friday's Chronicle Herald (Nova Scotia). Included were remarks on les Olympiques dynamic duo of Claude Giroux (PHI) and Sabres 2007 sixth-rounder, Paul Byron. On the "secret" to stopping his club:
So who knows what that one thing is? Maybe Groulx is worried that Rouyn-Noranda head coach Andre Tourigny will have an effective method to shut down Claude Giroux and Paul Byron. The two snipers were nearly unstoppable against the Mooseheads, piling up a combined 18 points in four games and skating circles around Halifax’s defence. The Halifax coaching staff elected not to shadow Giroux and Byron the way the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles shadowed Halifax stars Jakub Voracek and Brad Marchand in the second round. Hindsight being what it is, that might have helped the Mooseheads. One NHL scout I know well also suggested that Halifax erred by not being more belligerent with the two slightly undersized forwards. His logic was that it would have been worth a try to try to hammer on Byron and Giroux physically to see if they would eventually grow tired of the attention and shy away in the offensive zone. The Mooseheads never really did this.A litmus test on Byron's ability to take a hammering in a pressure situation would be welcome to those who suggest he's too small to succeed at the next level. Smart money says Byron can deal with it. I fondly remember a story from last summer about Byron getting into it with LNAH heavyweight Ryan James Hand during a pick-up game. This isn't to say that he'd easily transition to an old time, Eddie Shore style of play, or that the Q finals is equivalent to an offseason skate. It only suggests that he's seen physical hockey before. Heck, he may even draw a few penalties in the process. After dropping the opener on home ice, Rouyn-Noranda cruised to a 6-2 win in game two. They managed to hold Giroux to a single assist while keeping Byron off the sheet, but it wasn't accomplished via physical means. The Huskies only outhit Gatineau by a 13-9 margin. Going 4/5 on the power play was the "secret" there. Later, the author offers an additional bit on Byron:
And how about Byron? People in Gatineau have surely known longer than the rest of us how good this guy is; but what a show he put on against the Mooseheads! He may only weigh about 140 pounds, but he sure can skate and handle the puck. He was a real treat to watch.Tied 1-1 in their best-of-seven QMJHL Final series with the Huskies, Gatineau is three wins away from allowing Byron to present his skills on Canadian junior's brightest stage, The Memorial Cup. Of course, the lights get brighter if you skate for your country at the World Juniors. As of now, it's a safe assumption that the speedy Ottawa native is flying high on the radar of Hockey Canada.