Laval’s home schedule came to an end last week and while they ended it on a winning note, their first two games left a lot to be desired.
The Week That Was
Apr. 3: Monsters 5, Rocket 0 – Cleveland came to town in need of wins as they continue to battle for a playoff spot. Laval was playing for pride, or at least they should have been. Suffice it to say, the end result wasn’t pretty.
Apr. 5: Monsters 3, Rocket 2 – The effort was at least there at times. However, Laval blew a 2-0 lead that they held past the midway point (including a rare goal from Brett Lernout) and got burned by allowing late goals in the second and third periods, the last of which from college tryout Derek Barach, held up as the winner.
Apr. 6: Rocket 5, Bears 2 – Laval saved their best for last as they had one of their better efforts in recent weeks in their home finale. Several depth players had contributions in this one with Hayden Verbeek, Michael Pezzetta, and Thomas Ebbing all hitting the scoresheet. Given what’s left of the offence, those players will be counted on this week as well if they want a shot at winning.
Goals: Alex Belzile (19)
Assists: Alex Belzile (35)
Points: Alex Belzile (54)
+/-: Lernout/Vejdemo (+5)
PIMS: Alex Belzile (76)
Shots: Alex Belzile (170)
News And Notes
– The injury situation is just getting ridiculous. If you name a top-six scorer up front for Laval, chances are that the player is injured. Of those six, only Daniel Audette and Alex Belzile are healthy while Jake Evans, Alexandre Alain, Alexandre Grenier, and Lukas Vejdemo are all out.
– One player who isn’t injured anymore is Joe Cox, who became a top-liner quickly after signing from the ECHL. However, he was surprisingly released. So too was Samuel Houde, a Montreal draft pick on a tryout with the team. Marc-Olivier Roy was signed to a third PTO (a little odd considering players are only supposed to get two) but after one game with the team, he was released again. Laval also added winger Phillipe Hudon who has split the season between Canadian college hockey and the ECHL.
Last Game’s Lines:
Audette – Belzile – Jevpalovs
Struthers – Martineau – Kile
Shinkaruk – Ebbing – Adams-Moisan
Verbeek – Pezzetta – Hudon
Alzner – Fleury
Ouellet – Brook
Lamarche – Lernout
The Week Ahead
Apr. 10: at Bridgeport – The Sound Tigers locked up a playoff spot last week so it will be interesting to see if they opt to start resting some players. They’re a team that has done well with an offence-by-committee approach with veterans Chris Bourque and Steve Bernier leading the way.
Apr. 12: at Syracuse – Facing the highest-scoring team in the AHL is a difficult task at any time. Doing so with so many players out creates the potential for this one to get ugly in a hurry.
Apr. 13: at Binghamton – The Devils have dead last in the conference locked up so this one has the potential to be competitive at the very least. However, this same squad crushed Laval on home ice two weeks ago so it’s far from an easy game.
With the playoffs squarely out of the picture, I have to admit I’m not particularly pleased with how David Sklenicka is being deployed as of late. The season is effectively over so in theory, shouldn’t it be time to play the prospects more, not sit them? The Czech defenceman has been either the seventh defenceman or a healthy scratch (to allow ECHL tryouts to play up front) over the past couple of weeks which doesn’t make much sense from a development perspective.
I know Maxim Lamarche has had a nice season but it wouldn’t kill them to give him a night off. He’s on an AHL deal while Sklenicka is on an NHL pact (with another year left on it which makes playing him that much more important). Lamarche should not be the priority of the two at this time. They could give Karl Alzner a reward by sitting him too while Brett Lernout isn’t in must-play territory either.
Josh Brook is playing regularly which is great. Cale Fleury is getting big minutes. That’s also great. They’re prospects and playing prospects when there’s nothing left to play for makes perfect sense. It’s time they take that approach with the other prospect on their back end instead of letting him fend for scrap minutes or sitting in the press box.