Laval hosted Belleville for a pair of crucial divisional games last week and unfortunately for the Rocket, some reinforcements from the Habs weren’t enough to even manage a split.
The Week That Was
Jan. 31: Senators 4, Rocket 3 – Cayden Primeau has struggled against Belleville this season and that trend continued in this one. Some strong performance from the power play in the third period made it interesting as the three-goal gap was cut to one but despite more than doubling the Sens up in shots (43-17), they came out on the losing end.
Feb. 1: Senators 5, Rocket 4 (OT) – Laval was much more opportunistic in this one as they managed four goals on 19 shots in regulation. They had a 4-1 lead with six minutes to go and once again weren’t able to hold it. The tying goal came from behind the net on one that Keith Kinkaid had to have while the OT winner came off poor rebound control.
Goals: Charles Hudon (21)
Assists: Jake Evans (21)
Points: Jake Evans (31)
+/-: Noah Juulsen (+5)
PIMS: Michael Pezzetta (54)
Shots: Charles Hudon (129)
News And Notes
– Lukas Vejdemo missed both games against Belleville due to an injury sustained the previous week against Binghamton. It’s not believed to be a long-term issue though.
– One player who is going to be out for a while though is winger Ralph Cuddemi which is part of the reason that Jesperi Kotkaniemi has his number now (more on that later).
– Since returning from his injury, Phil Varone has been the player that Laval was expecting when they signed him this summer. Over that stretch of games (10 in total), he has four goals and five assists. Before being injured, he had just four helpers in 11 contests.
Last Game’s Lines:
Hudon – Kotkaniemi – Cox
Veilleux – Varone – Barber
Peca – Evans – Lynch
Pezzetta – Dauphin – Alain
Olofsson – Ouellet
Leskinen – Fleury
Alzner – Brook
The Week Ahead
Feb. 5: vs Utica – The focus over the last month has been securing the final playoff spot in the division but it’s not entirely impossible for Laval to catch the Comets, who hold the third seed. There’s a six-point gap between the two sides and the Rocket have a game in hand. Utica’s attack is quite deep though; they have six players with more points than Jake Evans (Laval’s top point-getter).
Feb. 8: at Belleville – They found two very distinct ways to lose to the Senators this past week. Will they make it three or might they actually pull out a win? Keith Kinkaid likely gets this game and will be looking for some payback after blowing the lead on Saturday.
Feb. 9: at Toronto – The Marlies have not fared well over the last little while which has helped keep them behind Laval for the time being (though they do have two games in hand). Jeremy Bracco, one of the top scorers in the league last season, has just four goals this year (and is still being hyped up by some as a prime trade chip for them). Former Hab Kenny Agostino leads the team in goals and is one point off the team lead as well.
When it was revealed that Jesperi Kotkaniemi was wearing #45 with Laval, I thought it was a little odd knowing that someone else on the roster (Ralph Cuddemi) has it. But maybe Kotkaniemi wanted that number for a reason and considering Cuddemi is a PTO player, he’ll wind up with something else. That seemed logical enough to me.
But no, the real explanation is much more embarrassing to the organization. As team broadcaster Anthony Marcotte pointed out, the team has a limited supply of uniforms and with the injured Cuddemi and Kotkaniemi being around the same size, they just gave him #45 and that way they don’t have to use new jerseys. I’m sorry, but that is categorically ridiculous.
The Canadiens, an organization worth more than a billion dollars, own the Rocket. They’re millions of dollars under the salary cap (though to be fair, they have quite a few one-way deals on the books in Laval). Attendance in Laval is pretty strong so they’re not hurting for revenues either. But they can’t afford to have enough extra uniforms available for new players and instead have to re-use someone else’s jersey since he’s going to be hurt for a while? That’s not being fiscally sound, that’s trying to out-do Eugene Melnyk’s level of cheapness in Ottawa. Second and third-tier junior teams in small towns can get away with that but not the Montreal Canadiens.
Go back a few years ago when the Habs were affiliated with Brampton of the ECHL where they basically left them for dead when they were in dire need of short-term money (and players, even). The Beast found someone that was willing to help (interestingly enough, Ottawa) and rightfully kicked Montreal to the curb. Now the Habs are cheaping out on a higher-level team that they fully control. If you claim to be all about player development, these types of stories should not exist; they simply cannot exist. If you’re going to commit to the youth, don’t turn around and cheap out wherever possible.
The good news is that there’s an extra revenue stream coming to Laval with them hosting the 2021 All-Star Classic. Maybe there will be enough left over for them to actually afford some extra spare uniforms…