The injury bug continues to be a significant problem for Laval and the Rocket struggled as a result as they picked up only a shootout win out of their three games while scoring just four goals overall.
The Week That Was
Dec. 10: Rocket 3, Monsters 2 (SO) – For the second time in less than a week, Laval picked up the win over Cleveland but this one took a comeback. Charles Hudon picked up the tying goal on the power play with less than four minutes left in regulation and Dale Weise added the winner in the shootout after scoring Laval’s first goal, his first point in a month.
Dec. 13: Americans 3, Rocket 2 – Charlie Lindgren got his second straight start for the first time this season but the goalie story on the night belonged to Jonas Johansson who held Laval at bay. The Rocket nearly doubled Rochester up in shots but Johansson was the better of the two netminders in the end. Nikita Jevpalovs picked up his first goal since late October in the losing effort.
Dec. 14: Americans 5, Rocket 0 – This qualified as a proverbial laying of the egg game. The offence wasn’t sharp, the defence struggled, the penalty kill was really bad, and Cayden Primeau wasn’t at his best in his first game back after being sent down by the Habs.
Shootout – Skaters:
Shootout – Goalies:
Goals: Charles Hudon (11)
Assists: Riley Barber (12)
Points: Riley Barber (18)
+/-: Noah Juulsen (+5)
PIMS: Antoine Waked (40)
Shots: Riley Barber (79)
News And Notes
– The infirmary continues to grow as Dale Weise was injured on Friday night. Charles Hudon was seen on crutches earlier in the week but managed to play while Michael McCarron isn’t believed to be fully healthy either but suited up on Sunday.
– Evan McEneny made his season debut and was immediately inserted on the top pairing. William Pelletier, who has been out all season, practiced with the team and is believed to be nearing a return.
– With the injuries and recalls, Laval signed a pair of ECHL players in Ralph Cuddemi and James Phelan to PTO deals. It’s Cuddemi’s first stint in the AHL despite a pretty strong track record of success in the ECHL while Phelan spent more than half of last season with Texas.
Last Game’s Lines:
Hudon – Evans – Lynch
Alain – Vejdemo – Cox
Jevpalovs – McCarron – Cuddemi
Verbeek – Pezzetta – Waked
McEneny – Ouellet
Olofsson – Lamarche
Alzner – Brook
The Week Ahead
Dec. 17: vs Rockford – It’s the IceHogs’ first ever visit to Laval for a rare out-of-conference game. They’re led offensively by the Sikura brothers (Tyler and Dylan; the latter was teammates with Jake Evans back at the 2017 Spengler Cup). Veteran Kris Versteeg had been with them to start the season but recently retired from full-time play…although he’s expected to suit up in this year’s Spengler Cup.
Dec. 20: at Utica – The two teams have split their first two matchups of the season, both in Laval. The two teams are also tied in the standings although the Comets have two games in hand. Sven Baertschi is one of their top scorers and recently made his trade request public through his agent. Vancouver responded by waiving him and he went unclaimed.
With Michael McNiven basically banished to the ECHL in a numbers game, he has basically become a forgotten prospect so now is as good a time as any to see how he has fared. He has split the season between Adirondack and Jacksonville in an effort to get him some playing time but he has only played in 11 games so far this season. He has done rather well in those games, posting a 2.04 GAA with a .936 SV%, numbers that have him in the hunt for the league lead in each category.
Unfortunately, barring an injury in Montreal or Laval, a path to playing time with the Rocket doesn’t appear to be on the horizon. The good news is that he’s a pretty good emergency option to call on but in his third pro season, it certainly feels like his development has been slowed considerably. There isn’t an immediate solution either unless a better loan opportunity presents itself (perhaps one in the AHL this time). If this situation continues, it’s going to create an interesting decision when it comes to a qualifying offer – Charlie Lindgren and Cayden Primeau will still both be signed so will there be room for him? They have a while to make that call but it’s going to be something to keep in mind as the season progresses.