Laval’s inability to score came back to haunt them for another week although they were able to eke out a win at the end to snap their losing streak at six straight games.
The Week That Was
Oct. 31: Belleville 2, Laval 1 – Nikita Scherbak’s debut was a quiet one while he played on his off-wing which was a little surprising. Laval was the better team through the first two periods and then cranked it up another notch entirely, outshooting the Senators 18-0 in the final frame. However, they were down by two heading into the period and could only get one of those back.
Nov. 2: Utica 3, Laval 1 – Despite facing an ECHL goaltender, the offensive woes continued. A pair of second period goals spelled the end of Charlie Lindgren’s night and despite another third period barrage of shots (15-3 this time), the Rocket weren’t able to score more than once.
Nov. 3: Laval 2, Utica 1 (OT) – Special teams haven’t been particularly kind to Laval in the early going but they were the difference in this one. Nikita Jevpalovs scored a shorthanded goal in the second to tie the game while Jake Evans scored on the power play early in overtime to put an end to the losing skid.
Goals: Kenny Agostino (4)
Assists: Alex Belzile (8)
Points: Kenny Agostino (10)
+/-: Michael McCarron (+1)
PIMS: Brett Lernout (17)
Shots: Kenny Agostino (48)
News And Notes
– Being a veteran clearly didn’t matter much to Joel Bouchard as the week progressed. Brett Lernout was a surprise scratch on Friday while Alex Grenier, Hunter Shinkaruk, and Ryan Sproul were all benched on Saturday. It will be interesting to see if that happens again as the season progresses.
– Michael Pezzetta and Antoine Waked were both recalled from Maine of the ECHL while Hayden Verbeek was sent down to get some playing time. Pezzetta surprisingly played in all three games with the Rocket while Waked suited up just once. Technically, Jeremiah Addison was sent to ECHL Brampton but we all know how that turned out.
– Michael McCarron missed Saturday’s game due to a back injury while Nikita Scherbak (whose conditioning stint isn’t going all that well thus far) left that game early due to illness.
Lines from last game:
Agostino – Evans – Alain
Scherbak – Vejdemo – Jevpalovs
Audette – Froese – Belzile
Pezzetta – Chaput – Waked
Kulak – Fleury
Sklenicka – Lernout
Moravcik – Lamarche
The Week Ahead
Nov. 7: at Utica – In what has to be considered an odd scheduling quirk, Laval will take on the Comets for the third straight game. Based on how the first two went, expect another very low-scoring affair.
Nov. 9/10: at Cleveland – The Monsters have been battling for the top spot in the North Division for most of the season and have been one of the better defensive squads in the league through the first month. Veterans Zac Dalpe, Mark Letestu, and Nathan Gerbe give them some threats up front while Russian winger Nikita Korostelev, who finished up last year in Laval, caught on with Cleveland but has seen limited action thus far.
While it may be tempting to blame Laval’s slow start on the state of Montreal’s prospects in the minors, I’m not convinced that they’re the problem. Yes, it’s disappointing that Daniel Audette has gone from a core player to a spare part but the veterans on this team that are supposed to be leading the way aren’t doing that for the most part. Kenny Agostino is off to a good start but Alex Grenier (2-1-3), Michael Chaput (3-1-4), and even Byron Froese (3-3-6) haven’t lived up to expectations. Chaput and Froese aren’t scorers in the NHL but have been very productive in the minors in the past while Grenier has been a steady producer in the AHL as well (without much of an NHL track record). Even Hunter Shinkaruk who is still more of a prospect has struggled considerably with just two points.
These are the players that are supposed to be leading the way offensively but through the first month, they’ve steadily worked their way down the depth chart. Even as players like Jake Evans progress throughout the season, it’s not fair for them to be counted on to shoulder the bulk of the load, especially if they intend on trying to win more regularly. If Laval is going to wake up offensively, it’s not going to be the prospects that make it happen, it’s the non-prospect veterans. They may not be the most interesting of players to follow but they’re the ones to watch for in these next few weeks.