Laval continues to roll as they ended their Western road trip on a winning note and continued that trend on home ice, picking up a pair of games against Stockton to extend their lead in the Canadian Division to 15 points.
The Week That Was
Mar. 30: Rocket 3, Moose 1 – For big chunks of the season so far, Laval has dominated in terms of possession and have had other teams chasing the game. This one was the opposite although at this point of the road trip, they barely had enough forwards left to ice a full lineup. Despite that, Michael McNiven was sharp and some goals from unusual sources (Corey Schueneman and Michael Pezzetta) were enough to secure the win with Joseph Blandisi picking up the insurance marker for good measure.
Apr. 2: Rocket 3, Heat 0 – A return to home ice meant some reinforcement for the walking wounded with Laurent Dauphin making an early impact as he set up the first goal early in the first. The game featured plenty of rough stuff with a trio of ejections in the second period including Brandon Baddock who had the goal. Yannick Veilleux scored early in the third to give them some breathing room before Ryan Poehling picked up the empty-netter.
Apr. 4: Rocket 4, Heat 2 – This time, the fireworks didn’t come until the third period (and it didn’t come in the form of fisticuffs either). Rafael Harvey-Pinard had the only goal through 40 minutes before Laval scored two early in the third (Veilleux and Poehling) to seemingly seal the deal. However, Stockton came back with a pair including one in the final minute to make it a one-goal game. That was as close as they got though as Harvey-Pinard picked up his second into the yawning cage to secure the sweep of the week.
Goals: Joseph Blandisi (9)
Assists: Leskinen/Weal (13)
Points: Blandisi/Poehling/Weal (18)
+/-: Otto Leskinen (+13)
PIMS: Brandon Baddock (47)
Shots: Otto Leskinen (51)
News And Notes
– While still not officially announced yet, Vancouver has recalled Guillaume Brisebois from his loan to Laval. It was entirely expected given their COVID-19 outbreak and the defenceman may be required to suit up for the Canucks at some point when they return to the ice.
– The injuries continued as Cale Fleury and Brandon Baddock were both injured in the first game against Stockton. They did get some help from the Habs, however, as Laurent Dauphin, Xavier Ouellet, and Gustav Olofsson were sent down. Otto Leskinen was recalled to Montreal’s taxi squad but barring some cap space being freed up, they can’t afford to actually put him on the roster so that may be short-lived. Cayden Primeau was also recalled due to Carey Price’s injury.
– Cole Caufield has cleared the first stage of the quarantine process which means he can start skating with the team. He’s expected to make his pro debut on Friday.
– Laval has a total of seven empty-net goals this season, four of which have come in the last four games, an odd streak of sorts.
Last Game’s Lines:
Blandisi – Poehling – Teasdale
Veilleux – Weal Harvey-Pinard
Verbeek – Dauphin – Lucchini
Pezzetta – Hillis – Khisamutdinov
Schueneman – Leskinen
Bisson – Olofsson
Ouellet – Brook
The Week Ahead
Apr. 6: vs Stockton – It’s the seventh game in less than three weeks between these two teams; there isn’t really anything left to say other than they won’t meet up the rest of the season.
Apr. 9/10: at Toronto – The Marlies have been shuffling players back and forth between the AHL and taxi squad for most of the season so they’ve been without some of their better players for stretches. Notably, they’ve also been without their intended goalie (Michael Hutchinson) for the entire season and have already used four different netminders with a fifth currently on the taxi squad. That has hurt them considerably, especially in the early going. On paper, they still feature some capable forwards including former Hab Kenny Agostino.
This feels like a good time to say something positive about Hayden Verbeek. After being a healthy scratch (or designated warm body on Montreal’s taxi squad) for half the season, he finally got into the lineup in Manitoba and responded with a goal in his first game and an assist in his next two. That’s right, after sitting for nearly two months, he came into the lineup and started with a three-game point streak, earning him a promotion to the third line in the process. Does this change anything about his future in the organization? Not at all, he’s about as close of a lock to not being tendered a qualifying offer this summer as there is. But it has been a tough year for Verbeek, starting in Slovakia but not playing much there, then playing even less in Laval. Good for him to step in and make an impact right away which is something I don’t think anyone was expecting from him.