The final week of the season for the Habs has come and gone with the team picking up a single win while dropping to fourth last in the standings. Meanwhile, in Laval, it continues to be all bad news as they now have hit the basement of the AHL standings with just one week left.
Jordie Benn: His comments voicing his frustration over the late-season defensive rotation were rather puzzling. Guess what, Jordie? Petry and Alzner weren’t sitting, especially with the latter’s ironman streak. Lernout and Juulsen certainly weren’t going to considering this was the time to play the youngsters. That left Benn along with Reilly and Schlemko and both of them took turns sitting so why was Benn expecting to be above that? With how few games there were left when he made the comment, he should have just stayed quiet as making his frustration public really accomplished nothing.
Artturi Lehkonen: His play the last month certainly provides a lot of hope for him heading into next season. The big question is whether he changed anything or whether this was just half a season of bad luck getting wiped out over the span of a few weeks. If it’s the former, there’s hope for him being a top-six forward yet. If not, Marc Bergevin may be wise to view him as more of a third liner that can move up when injuries strike while trying to reshape the roster in the coming months.
Kerby Rychel: His skating flaw is certainly evident but I don’t think he hurt his cause in his brief stint with the Habs. He showed a willingness to play physically and his shot doesn’t look out of place either. If he can find a way to improve his skating this summer, he could play his way into the discussion for a spot next season. If he doesn’t though, he may find himself in a similar fate with the Habs where he’s viewed as organizational filler more than an actual prospect.
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Goals: Brendan Gallagher (31)
Assists: Jonathan Drouin (33)
Points: Brendan Gallagher (54)
+/-: Nicolas Deslauriers (+7)
PIMS: Nicolas Deslauriers (55)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (278)
The tailspin continued for Laval as they lost all three games and in the process, have slid to dead last in the AHL standings. They’ll have two games to try to climb out of the basement before wrapping up their season on the weekend.
News and Notes:
– The roster changes continued as Laval continues to get a look at several young players. Gone are Bailey Webster and Matt Petgrave while coming in were defenceman Garret McFadden (Guelph, OHL) and winger Tye Felhaber (Ottawa, OHL).
– Defenceman Simon Bourque and Thomas Ebbing are dealing with undisclosed injuries and are listed as day-to-day. Jeremiah Addison is sick and missed all three games, a disappointing development considering how much time he has already missed this year.
– Laval will have a few familiar faces in their lineup for their final two games as Michael McCarron, Brett Lernout, and Kerby Rychel were all sent down by the Habs. Rinat Valiev is also back with the team although he did not play on Saturday night.
– Chris Terry has now moved into a tie for first overall in AHL scoring with 70 points, tied with Lehigh Valley’s Phil Varone. Worth noting is that Varone has needed 73 games to reach that mark while Terry has only played in 60.
– Lines from last game:
Terry – Cracknell – Boucher
Gregoire – Petti – Waked
Veilleux – Ebbing – Korostelev
Broll – Beauregard – Felhaber
Plant – Taormina
Parisi – Owens
McFadden – Austin
Shootout – Skaters:
Shootout – Goalies:
Goals: Chris Terry (32)
Assists: Matt Taormina (48)
Points: Chris Terry (70)
+/-: Rinat Valiev (+13)
PIMS: Jeremy Gregoire (113)
Shots: Chris Terry (209)
April 13: Toronto vs Laval
April 14: Laval vs Toronto
With there being plenty of speculation about who could be leaving in terms of assistant coaches or front office staff, this feels like as good a time as any to add my two cents for what I’d like to see happen. On the coaching staff, some fresh voices are needed, especially when it comes to the defence which was not up to par this season. That means J.J. Daigneault and perhaps Dan Lacroix should be let go. In terms of who could replace them, the target should be someone who works well with defenders and has a history of strong penalty killing tactics. Shoring up that end of the ice would go a long way towards helping the cause next season, even if their offensive struggles continue.
In terms of management, I don’t think a total overhaul is needed. If Rick Dudley wants to primarily focus on scouting, let him keep doing that. Trevor Timmins (also an assistant GM) isn’t going anywhere and Scott Mellanby is still relatively new to the role. If he goes, he goes but if he stays, I don’t think it changes much. For me, the one change that makes sense is Larry Carriere, the Laval GM and someone who has the ear of Marc Bergevin as he had been an AGM for several years previously. If you want new blood in management, this is the move to make – not only is Carriere getting closer to retirement but that might also help shake up the Laval coaching staff as the hiring of his son as an assistant for the AHL team still makes no logical sense to this day. (About the only logical thing with that particular coaching staff is a dismissal of everyone involved but we’ll see if that actually happens. One can only hope.)
With Claude Julien and Marc Bergevin returning next season, a massive shake-up doesn’t appear to be in the cards. These moves, however, would represent some tweaks that should help get things moving a little bit back in the right direction.