Despite facing a pair of top teams in the East, Laval had a strong week on home ice as they picked up three wins in as many games.
The Week That Was
Oct. 30: Rocket 4, Wolf Pack 1 – After getting burned by allowing some untimely goals in the third period, Laval flipped the script as they scored three unanswered to secure the victory. Charlie Lindgren’s .947 SV% in the victory was his best single-game mark since the beginning of February, a stretch of 15 appearances.
Nov. 1: Rocket 2, Wolf Pack 1 (SO) – Antoine Waked made an immediate impact following his recall as he scored the lone goal in regulation for Laval; Matthew Peca picked up his first point of the season on the marker as well. Cayden Primeau had another strong showing between the pipes to give him the lowest GAA among all rookie goaltenders.
Nov. 2: Rocket 6, Marlies 5 (SO) – This one was crazy and that’s putting it lightly. Toronto jumped out to a 2-0 lead before Laval tied it up in the second to make it 2-2 after 40 minutes. However, the Marlies added a pair to start the third and quickly added another after Lukas Vejdemo had cut the deficit to one. Charles Hudon then picked up a pair of goals in the final four minutes and then Alex Belzile picked up his second shootout winner in less than 24 hours.
Shootout – Skaters:
Shootout – Goalies:
Goals: Charles Hudon (5)
Assists: Belzile/Leskinen (5)
Points: Alex Belzile (9)
+/-: Noah Juulsen (+2)
PIMS: Otto Leskinen (16)
Shots: Xavier Ouellet (49)
News And Notes
– Another week, another injury to a key offseason addition. Phil Varone is out longer-term with an undisclosed injury and with Kevin Lynch also banged up, Antoine Waked was recalled from Adirondack of the ECHL.
– Staying out of the penalty box was an issue for Alex Belzile last season who actually led the team in penalty minutes last season. Thus far, he has stayed out of the box in 12 of 13 games. However, in the one game he was called for an infraction (Friday), he took four different penalties.
– Jake Evans’ longest stretch without a goal last season was 12 games. He’s at 13 and counting to start 2019-20.
Last Game’s Lines:
Jevpalovs – Poehling – Belzile
Hudon – McCarron – Weise
Peca – Evans – Waked
Alain – Vejdemo – Cox
Olofsson – Ouellet
Leskinen – Juulsen
Alzner – Brook
The Week Ahead
Nov. 8/9: at Cleveland – After the Monsters took two straight in Laval to start the season, the Rocket will look to get some revenge. The two teams are tied in the standings although Cleveland, the second-stingiest team in the conference in terms of goals allowed, has two games in hand. Former Hab Stefan Matteau has six points in nine games for them so far this season.
It wasn’t that long ago that Josh Brook appeared to be getting a real look in training camp with the Habs. He rightfully was sent down as he wasn’t ready but the expectations were that he’d make an early impact with Laval, especially since he held his own in a stint with them late last season.
However, that hasn’t exactly happened. He’s off to a slow start offensively and has just one point (a goal) through 13 games. That’s a big drop off considering he averaged well over a point-per-game in the WHL last season. This isn’t much cause for concern though. Brook is getting a chance to play alongside Karl Alzner which means he’s getting deployed in more defensive situations and from a development perspective, that’s not a bad thing. With Xavier Ouellet playing his off-side and Noah Juulsen now healthy, Brook’s current spot on the third pairing is likely where he’s going to be for a while yet.
It’s not very often that defencemen play one professional season and make the jump to the NHL. Cale Fleury is trying to do so now but he’s the exception, not the norm. He spent some time on the third pairing a year ago as well. It’s safe to suggest that Brook will need more time in the minors given the offensive upside he has that Fleury doesn’t but that was pretty much a given anyway. He’s not off to a great start but slow and steady is never a bad thing from a development perspective.