Laval’s road trip featured a trio of close games although the Rocket were only able to come away with a victory in one of them.
The Week That Was
Oct. 23: Senators 3, Rocket 2 – After blowing a bunch of leads, Laval tried to turn the tables. They were down 3-0 just over a minute into the second before trying to pull off the comeback. They had 37 shots after Belleville scored their third goal but they were only able to score on two of them as Marcus Hogberg was at the top of his game.
Oct. 25: Wolf Pack 2, Rocket 1 – This one saw Laval go back to previous habits. Ryan Poehling’s tally in the second looked like it would hold up as all the Rocket would need but Hartford tied it with less than two minutes to go in regulation before getting the winner with under a minute left in overtime. It was the first time in his last eight AHL starts that Charlie Lindgren allowed fewer than three goals.
Oct. 26: Rocket 3, Bruins 2 (SO) – These two teams are incapable of playing a blow out game, it seems as this was Laval’s third straight one-goal victory over Providence. Cayden Primeau had a career-best 38 stops in the victory while Phil Varone, still looking for his first goal of the season, had the winner in the shootout.
Shootout – Skaters:
Shootout – Goalies:
Goals: Alex Belzile (4)
Assists: Alex Belzile (5)
Points: Alex Belzile (9)
+/-: Alexandre Alain (+1)
PIMS: Otto Leskinen (12)
Shots: Xavier Ouellet (35)
News And Notes
– Noah Juulsen made his season debut and was tested quickly as he played in both ends of the back-to-back which was a bit surprising considering how long he missed. Matthew Peca also got back in on Saturday after missing a couple of weeks. That was the good news on the injury front. The bad news is that both Riley Barber and Karl Alzner are dealing with injuries with no timetable for their returns.
– Charles Hudon is not helping his chances of getting back to the NHL at the moment. After a decent start to the season, he has been held pointless in six straight games.
– Michael McCarron served his two-game suspension on Wednesday and Friday before returning to the lineup against Providence, the team Laval was playing when he committed his illegal hit that got him suspended in the first place.
Last Game’s Lines:
Varone – Poehling – Belzile
Hudon – Evans – Alain
Jevpalovs – Vejdemo – Cox
Peca – McCarron – Weise
Olofsson – Ouellet
Leskinen – Juulsen
Sklenicka – Brook
The Week Ahead
Oct. 30/Nov. 1: vs Hartford – The Wolf Pack did a really good job limiting Laval offensively last week and the Rocket will need to do a better job at getting pucks through towards Igor Shesterkin. Hartford has yet to lose in regulation so far this season and are first overall in the AHL standings.
Nov. 2: vs Toronto – It’s the first of ‘only’ eight matchups this season and once again, the Marlies are also coming in on a high as they too have yet to lose in regulation time. They’ll also likely have some reinforcements coming with some cap casualties coming from the Maple Leafs so their roster will be even stronger. Former Hab and Rocket winger Kenny Agostino is among the veterans that Toronto brought in this offseason.
With Laval off to a rather underwhelming start considering their offseason additions, some have wondered if it’s time for concern. I’m not quite at that level yet but I’m getting there fairly quickly. I get that the system for the newcomers is different but that’s the case for newcomers on other teams as well and it hasn’t stopped a lot of them from producing. Meanwhile, Phil Varone, Charles Hudon, and Riley Barber – three solid offensive players – have all provided very little so far and while it’s not entirely fair to pin the early struggles on them, they’d have a couple more wins already had they lived up to expectations. Whether it’s them adapting to the coaching or the coaching adapting to them, they need to be better in a hurry.
If this continues for a few more weeks (this one may be tough to judge given the quality of their competition), then it may very well be time to start asking what’s wrong and what needs to change. There is no excuse for this team (when healthy and they’ve been pretty healthy so far all things considered) to be battling to stay out of the basement in the North Division. Mediocrity can’t be tolerated from this group for much longer.