It was a decent week at home for Laval as they managed to pick up their first two home victories of the season to pull themselves out of the basement in the North Division.
The Week That Was
Oct. 16: Rocket 5, Bruins 4 (SO) – The game got off to a great start for Laval as they led 4-0 in the first period. However, they allowed two goals in the final three minutes of regulation to let Providence get it to overtime before Charlie Lindgren put up a strong performance in the shootout to get the Rocket the extra point.
Oct. 18: Rocket 3, Bruins 2 – This was another blown lead for Laval as Providence erased a 2-0 first period lead after Alexandre Alain and Dale Weise picked up their first goals of the season. However, Ryan Poehling’s first career AHL goal in the third period held up as the difference while Cayden Primeau had a strong showing between the pipes.
Oct. 19: Bears 4, Rocket 2 – Once again, Laval opened up the scoring but they weren’t able to hold onto the lead. Hershey scored a pair of goals in the third (the latter in an empty net with five seconds left) to secure the victory while Poehling scored for the second straight game.
Shootout – Skaters:
Shootout – Goalies:
Goals: Alex Belzile (3)
Assists: Otto Leskinen (4)
Points: Alex Belzile (6)
+/-: Joe Cox (+2)
PIMS: Otto Leskinen (12)
Shots: Xavier Ouellet (24)
News And Notes
– Michael McCarron received a two-game suspension for an illegal hit against Providence. Interestingly enough, he was allowed to play in the Hershey game after the incident occurred with the suspension coming after.
– Noah Juulsen has yet to suit up after being sent down by the Habs but he hasn’t suffered a setback. He is still skating with the team and accompanied them on their current road trip and the belief is he’ll get in the lineup soon. Despite the fact he hasn’t been cleared to play, blueliner Ryan Culkin was assigned to ECHL Maine.
– Phil Varone has averaged better than a point per game over his last two seasons in the AHL (last year being a short stint as he was in the NHL for more than half the year) but it has not resulted in much production with Laval as he has just a single assist through his first seven games with the team.
Last Game’s Lines:
Hudon – Poehling – Belzile
Varone – Evans – Barber
Jevpalovs – Vejdemo – Cox
Alain – McCarron – Weise
Leskinen – Ouellet
Olofsson – Lamarche
Alzner – Brook
The Week Ahead
Oct. 23: at Belleville – I won’t go into much about this one considering the game will have already been played by the time you read this. (Yes, I know this is a late posting for the Rocket Weekly…sorry.)
Oct. 25: at Hartford – The Wolf Pack have a very promising young goalie in Igor Shesterkin who before this season was viewed by some as the best goalie outside of the NHL. They have a veteran-laden team for the most part although they have a situation worth monitoring with Vitali Kravtsov, a 19-year-old first-rounder who is considering going back to Russia due to limited ice time.
Oct. 26: at Providence – These guys again for the third time in two weeks. After two wins last week against them, they should be confident although the Bruins should be able to draw some confidence from the fact that they’ve come back from two multi-goal deficits in that game as well. McCarron, who was suspended for an illegal hit in their last meeting, will be eligible to return for this one.
In the early going, Laval has been alternating starts between Charlie Lindgren and Cayden Primeau. One was once viewed as a potential (backup) goalie of the future while the other is the goalie of the future. Accordingly, there’s a fair argument to be made that more playing time should be given to Primeau but I’m okay with this type of minute distribution for the time being. For starters, Lindgren is still likely the first choice to be recalled if one of Carey Price or Keith Kinkaid go down so he needs to be in game shape. On top of that, Primeau has yet to play in more than 36 games in each of his last four regular season campaigns (excluding his WJC stint a year ago). Expecting him to come in and play 50-plus games in his rookie professional season isn’t realistic. With those two things to consider, why not stagger his starts and let him ease into things? At some point, he’ll play his way into more playing time if he’s outplaying Lindgren as there will be a playoff battle to consider but for now, the patient approach is the correct one, even if it results in less playing time for one of Montreal’s top prospects.