Some additions to Laval’s defence yielded some early dividends but unfortunately, the wins continue to be difficult to come by for the Rocket.
The Week That Was
Nov. 28: Rocket 2, Senators 1 – Karl Alzner made his (anticipated?) Laval debut and made an early impact as he opened up the scoring. Charlie Lindgren had one of his better outings of the season while Byron Froese, who has been quiet as of late, picked up the winner.
Nov. 30: Phantoms 3, Rocket 2 (OT) – Protecting leads has been an issue for this team and it came back to bite them again. Michael Pezzetta scored to give Laval a 2-1 lead in the third but Lukas Vejdemo took a holding the stick penalty with less than three minutes left. Lehigh Valley scored at the tail end of the power play and then potted the winner less than a minute into the extra frame.
Dec. 1: Comets 5, Rocket 4 – For a fifth time in a month, these two teams squared off. Charlie Lindgren got the nod in the back-to-back (how little confidence do the coaches have in Michael McNiven?) and in hindsight, that was a mistake as he had a rough game. Victor Mete scored his first professional goal to cut the deficit to one late in the third but that was as close as it got. Michael McCarron had a strong game, assisting on each of Laval’s goals.
Goals: Byron Froese (8)
Assists: Alex Belzile (15)
Points: Alex Belzile (18)
+/-: Audette/Lernout (+5)
PIMS: Alexandre Grenier (29)
Shots: Alex Belzile (63)
News And Notes
– Cale Fleury remains out with a lower-body injury. His day-to-day designation has now reached the three-week mark. Meanwhile, Michal Moravcik missed all three games with an undisclosed injury. Despite that, the team saw fit to release defenceman Ryan Sproul from his PTO deal. (He quickly signed with Hershey.)
– The writing has been on the wall for a bit but Michael McNiven has been sent to Brampton of the ECHL to get some playing time. Etienne Marcoux has been recalled to serve as Charlie Lindgren’s backup. Meanwhile, Phelix Martineau was returned to Fort Wayne of the ECHL.
– Simon Despres has signed a PTO deal with Laval. The plan is for him to play at the Spengler Cup (where he’ll likely seek overseas opportunities) so this is more about giving him a place to get in shape over actually helping the team.
– Very quietly, Alexandre Alain has been more productive over the past few weeks. He has eight points in his last 12 games and has moved into a tie for fifth in scoring on the team.
Last Game’s Lines:
Audette – Evans – Froese
Belzile – McCarron – Grenier
Shinkaruk – Vejdemo – Jevpalovs
Pezzetta – Verbeek – Alain
Mete – Lernout
Alzner – Lamarche
Culkin – Sklenicka
The Week Ahead
Dec. 7: at Belleville – After beating the Baby Sens this past week, they’ll face off in the rematch. Belleville leads the North Division in penalty minutes which would normally be good news except Laval’s power play makes Montreal’s look like a well-oiled machine. They should once again benefit from top scorer Drake Batherson being up with Ottawa.
Dec. 8: at Toronto – The Marlies continue to lead the league in goals scored and allowed. Former Laval centre Adam Cracknell has missed the last couple of weeks due to injury but has resumed skating and should be back for this one. Toronto just added 2013 first-round pick Morgan Klimchuk in a trade with Calgary last week.
We’ve made it into December and I haven’t had to rant yet about a lack of depth. That is, until now. Everything that has happened this season has been about depleting depth. Jacob de la Rose and Nikita Scherbak go for nothing on waivers which results in two core players in Kenny Agostino and Michael Chaput coming up to the Habs. Who were they replaced by? The now ECHL-bound Phelix Martineau and Hayden Verbeek. That’s a bit of a downgrade, to put it lightly.
With two injuries on the back end in Michal Moravcik and Cale Fleury and Brett Kulak on recall to the Habs, Laval’s defensive depth isn’t the greatest even with the additions of Karl Alzner and Victor Mete. How does management respond? By releasing Ryan Sproul, one of their few veterans with any track record of success at the minor league level. But hey, Ryan Culkin (a career minor leaguer that turns 25 in two weeks) and an overmatched Adam Plant are still around. Oh, and Simon Despres who is skating with the team in an effort to basically get away from there as soon as possible.
Having depth is one thing but having quality depth is another. All season long, they’ve been losing that quality depth and what has been done to replenish it? Absolutely nothing. It’s time for Marc Bergevin to make a trade (or two) and restock the cupboards in Laval. Montreal has some extra prospects and draft picks and they can afford to spare one or two to improve the roster and in doing so, help the development of the prospects they have down there. If not, get ready for even more lengthy losing streaks and yet another season without the playoffs.