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Home ice was kind to Laval last week as they were able to pick up five of a possible six points to help them gain some ground as they look to try to get back into the playoff picture.

The Week That Was

Dec. 12: Rocket 3, Senators 1 – After getting thoroughly embarrassed the week before, Laval put forth a much better all-around effort in this one.  Michael McNiven carried a shutout into the final minute of regulation while Nikita Jevpalovs scored quite the highlight-reel goal.

Dec. 14: Crunch 3, Rocket 2 (SO) – Syracuse has been one of the top teams in the league after a slow start to the season and they had former Hab prospect Gabriel Dumont back for this one.  Things were looking up early in the second period when Laval picked up a pair of quick goals but the lead was short-lived.  Laval had multiple late power play chances but unfortunately for them, their power play is as bad as Montreal’s.

Dec. 15: Rocket 4, Crunch 0 – This was a defensive clinic from the Rocket who limited Syracuse to just a dozen shots, making it an easy night for Etienne Marcoux between the pipes.  There were a lot of firsts for Laval in this one – it was Marcoux’s first pro shutout, David Sklenicka and Phelix Martineau had their first AHL assist, and Brett Lernout finally scored his first of the year (into an empty net).

StatPack

Skaters:

# Player GP G A +/- SOG PIMS
2 Maxim Lamarche 3 0 1 E 4 0
5 David Sklenicka 1 0 1 +2 3 2
8 Victor Mete 3 0 3 +3 4 0
10 Jake Evans 3 0 0 -2 5 4
11 Nikita Jevpalovs 3 2 0 +5 5 2
12 Lukas Vejdemo 2 0 0 +1 1 2
14 Brett Lernout 3 1 0 +2 4 0
15 Phelix Martineau 1 0 1 +1 0 2
16 Karl Alzner 3 0 0 +1 1 0
17 Hayden Verbeek 1 0 0 E 0 0
19 Antoine Waked 1 0 0 -1 0 0
21 Byron Froese 3 1 0 +1 5 0
22 Alex Belzile 3 1 1 +1 7 0
23 Michael Pezzetta 2 0 0 -1 0 0
24 Daniel Audette 3 0 0 +1 1 2
25 Michael McCarron 3 1 2 +5 4 2
27 Alexandre Alain 3 1 0 E 7 0
28 Alexandre Grenier 3 1 1 +2 4 2
32 M. Adams-Moisan 1 0 0 E 0 2
37 Simon Despres 2 0 0 -1 1 2
38 Cale Fleury 1 0 0 +1 1 0
39 Hunter Shinkaruk 3 1 0 +1 4 0
43 Xavier Ouellet 3 0 0 +2 13 0

Goalies:

# Player Record GAA SV% SO
29 Etienne Marcoux 1-0-0 0.00 1.000 1
40 Michael McNiven 1-0-1 1.45 .935 0

Shootout – Skaters:

# Player G/ATT
10 Jake Evans 0/1
21 Byron Froese 0/1
22 Alex Belzile 0/1
24 Daniel Audette 1/1
28 Alexandre Grenier 0/1
39 Hunter Shinkaruk 0/1

Shootout – Goalies:

# Player SVS/SF
40 Michael McNiven 4/6

Team Leaders:

Goals: Byron Froese (10)
Assists: Alex Belzile (17)
Points: Alex Belzile (22)
+/-: Audette/Froese/Lernout (+5)
PIMS: Michael McCarron (35)
Shots: Alex Belzile (75)

News And Notes

- Lukas Vejdemo returned from his upper-body injury while Cale Fleury is now back in the lineup after missing the better part of a month.  Meanwhile, Simon Despres missed Saturday’s game with an undisclosed injury but considering he’s probably only going to be around another week or so before heading to Switzerland, that’s not a big loss.

- Victor Mete’s strong showing earned him a call back to the big club while Noah Juulsen is on his way to Laval.

- Alexandre Grenier’s empty-netter against Belleville was his first goal in more than a month.  His assist in that game was his first in a month as well.  For someone coming off a 20-goal, 44-point season, he’s not producing anywhere near the level he should be.

Last Game’s Lines:

Belzile – McCarron – Alain
Jevpalovs – Evans – Froese
Shinkaruk – Vejdemo – Grenier
Audette – Martineau

Alzner – Sklenicka
Ouellet – Fleury
Mete – Lernout
Lamarche

The Week Ahead

Dec. 21/22: vs Toronto – The Marlies continue to score a lot and allow even more goals.  They’ve taken an odd approach towards fixing that, dealing former Laval centre Adam Cracknell (and goalie Jeff Glass) to Anaheim for an enforcer and followed up that move by signing another enforcer.  They currently have the lowest PIM/game average in the league – something tells me that may change soon.  Toronto has seven players with at least 18 points this season while Laval has one (Alex Belzile).

Final Thought

Montreal’s swap of Kerby Rychel for Hunter Shinkaruk raised some eyebrows and not just because the deal was made in August when it seems like nothing ever happens.  The Habs were moving out a proven AHL scorer for someone who was clearly on the outs in Calgary.  While Shinkaruk is a better skater, that’s about the only thing he’s better than Rychel at.  It’s safe to say that the Canadiens (and by extension, the Rocket) have lost this deal.  Rychel leads Calgary’s farm team in scoring and is playing at a level comparable to his time in Laval while recently earning a recall to the Flames.  Meanwhile, Shinkaruk has fallen to the point where it’s a good night if he’s not on the fourth line by the end of it.  The point of this trade wasn’t clear then and it certainly isn’t now.  Instead of dealing away talented players for someone who could potentially be a better fourth line fit in Montreal if half the team gets hurt, here’s hoping Marc Bergevin starts focusing on adding some scoring help to this team soon.