After losing two more of their top players to NHL recalls, Laval struggled to produce as they dropped all three of their games last week.
The Week That Was
Nov. 21: Comets 3, Rocket 2 – For the fourth time this month, these two teams matched up and once again it was a tight affair. Utica had top goalie Thatcher Demko back for the first time this season and he made a difference. Laval had the lead in the second period but coughed up a pair in the third to leave empty-handed.
Nov. 24: Checkers 4, Rocket 2 – Carolina’s farm team sits atop the AHL standings and they did a very good job of limiting Laval’s opportunities as they held them to just 16 shots in this one. Byron Froese tied it up early in the second but Charlotte popped a pair before the period was up which proved to be the difference.
Nov. 25: Checkers 3, Rocket 1 – After a tough first period, Laval picked up their performance the rest of the way but being down two of their top forwards certainly didn’t help their chances. Michael McNiven had a decent showing in this one allowing just two goals (the third was an empty-netter with two seconds left) which was good to see after a pair of rough outings the last couple of weeks.
Goals: Michael Chaput (7)
Assists: Alex Belzile (13)
Points: Alex Belzile (15)
+/-: Lamarche/Moravcik/Shinkaruk (+4)
PIMS: Alexandre Grenier (29)
Shots: Alex Belzile (56)
News And Notes
– With Brett Kulak and Michael Chaput in Montreal, Laval called up centre Phelix Martineau from Fort Wayne of the ECHL and defenceman Ryan Culkin from ECHL Maine.
– Laval’s five-game losing streak is the longest active skid in the league. It also happens to coincide with them dropping to a tie for dead last overall in the AHL standings.
– Michael McCarron’s goal on Sunday snapped a 12-game goalless drought. He has scored in just two of 19 games so far this season.
Last Game’s Lines:
Shinkaruk – Evans – Froese
Pezzetta – McCarron – Belzile
Jevpalovs – Vejdemo – Grenier
Verbeek – Martineau – Alain
Plant – Lamarche
Moravcik – Lernout
Sklenicka – Sproul
The Week Ahead
Nov. 28: vs Belleville – It’s the second of a dozen matchups between these two division rivals. Former Hab Mike Condon is on the roster but is dealing an injury at the moment while their leading scorer in Drake Batherson is up with Ottawa for now.
Nov. 30: vs Lehigh Valley – The Phantoms don’t have a ton of top-end prospects in the pipeline but what they do have are impact veterans in forwards Phil Varone and Greg Carey as well as defenceman T.J. Brennan. The trio are all averaging over a point per game and are in the top-15 in scoring league-wide. Goalie prospect Carter Hart has struggled in his first professional season so perhaps this will be an opportunity for Laval’s weak offence to get going.
Dec. 1: vs Utica – Yeah, these guys again… This will be their fifth matchup in less than a month but the good news is after this one, they don’t face off again until mid-February. They’ll have Darren Archibald back from Vancouver after he cleared waivers on Monday.
The signing of Maxim Lamarche went under the radar this summer, particularly the fact that he inked a rare two-year AHL deal. Considering he was a depth player with Lehigh Valley last season, it’s certainly understandable that most people were unaware of the move or simply didn’t think anything of it (put me in the latter category). However, he has worked his way up the depth chart to the point where he has become one of their top defenders. With Brett Kulak up in Montreal for what appears to be the foreseeable future with Karl Alzner being the roster casualty, Lamarche is now their top point getter on the back end and has already beaten his point output from last season in barely one-third of the games. For someone that was basically brought in to be a depth player, he’s going to be asked to take on a lot more responsibility for the next little while. Not all of their depth signings have worked out but this one certainly has.