The Rocket went into last week with one tough matchup and two games that could be classified as ones where they were the clear favourite to win. Naturally, they lost both of those while winning the tougher one against a quality Syracuse squad.
The Week That Was
Jan. 10: Rocket 7, Crunch 5 – This game was anything but a goaltending clinic as Syracuse’s starter was yanked early and Cayden Primeau easily could have been. Charles Hudon continued his hot stretch as he continues to take aim at the AHL’s ‘Cy Young Award’ while Christian Folin and Karl Alzner picked up their first goals of the season, the latter coming into an empty net. Laurent Dauphin made his Laval debut in this one after being acquired from Milwaukee.
Jan. 11: Phantoms 2, Rocket 0 – After benefiting from some porous goaltending the night before, they faced the exact opposite as Alex Lyon had his best start of the season, one day after allowing two goals on three shots in just over three minutes of work. Josh Brook was a healthy scratch for the second straight game which came as somewhat of a surprise.
Jan. 12: Sound Tigers 6, Rocket 4 – Primeau followed up a tough start in Syracuse with a worse one here as he didn’t make it to the midway point of the first period before being yanked down 3-0. Keith Kinkaid wasn’t much better. Laval was twice able to cut the deficit to a single goal but that was as close as they could get as they lost their second straight game to an Atlantic Division bottom feeder.
Goals: Charles Hudon (18)
Assists: Jake Evans (19)
Points: Barber/Evans (27)
+/-: Juulsen/McEneny (+5)
PIMS: Otto Leskinen (47)
Shots: Charles Hudon (104)
News And Notes
– Evan McEneny will be sticking around as Laval ripped up his tryout deal and signed him to a one-way AHL contract for the rest of the season.
– Phil Varone made his long-awaited return and scored his first goal of the season. Meanwhile, the back end was also bolstered with the addition of Christian Folin after he cleared waivers in Montreal. That didn’t last long, however, as he’s now injured..
– As expected, William Pelletier was recalled from his brief conditioning stint with ECHL Maine. With him now healthy, Garrett Mitchell was released from his PTO.
– Laval has found another home for Michael McNiven as they’ve loaned him to Norfolk. It’s his third different ECHL assignment this season.
Last Game’s Lines:
Veilleux – Evans – Hudon
Vejdemo – Varone – Barber
Alain – Dauphin – Waked
Pezzetta – Lynch – Jevpalovs
Olofsson – Ouellet
Leskinen – McEneny
Alzner – Brook
The Week Ahead
Jan. 18/19: at Manitoba – It wasn’t that long ago that Winnipeg’s farm team was among the better groups in the league but that hasn’t been the case this season. They’ve struggled to keep the puck out of the net although the recent reacquisition of Eric Comrie should help in that regard. They’re also among the lower-scoring teams despite some strong performances from veteran Seth Griffith and prospect Jansen Harkins. Former Hab Logan Shaw should suit up for these games after recently clearing waivers.
I’m sure there are plenty of Montreal fans who are enjoying the current injury situation for the Maple Leafs just because of the rivalry between the two sides. However, there could be a direct benefit to the Habs (and I’m not talking about the NHL standings). The fact that Toronto is so banged up on the back end means that their top defencemen are up with the big club. That’s great news for Laval as the Marlies are the team they’re trying to catch for the final playoff spot in the North Division. While they still are deep up front, they’re certainly more catchable now than they were a week ago. Despite a tough end to the week for the Rocket, there should be some optimism as a playoff spot may not be as much of a pipe dream as it seemed just a few weeks ago when they were floundering and dealing with a ton of injuries. Regardless of what you think of Montreal’s playoff hopes, this situation is worth keeping an eye on.