Last week was a weird one for Laval, featuring a crazy finish against Toronto for one reason and two games later, a crazy finish against Rochester for a completely different reason.
The Week That Was
Oct. 27: Rocket 5, Marlies 0 – Alex Biega was ejected early in the first with a match penalty for a check to the head and that set the tone. Laval scored twice on that power play to take a three-goal lead before the seven-minute mark in the first, then added two more in the second to put it out of reach. And then it got crazy. The third period had 171 penalty minutes including a line brawl that had five players on each side ejected. Just think, there are seven more of these matchups this season.
Oct. 29: Americans 4, Rocket 3 – This was a back and forth affair with Laval always being within striking distance but never being able to tie it up either. They were able to cut the deficit to one on three separate occasions but that was at close as they were able to get. Corey Schueneman and Rafael Harvey-Pinard had their first goals of the season in the loss.
Oct. 30: Americans 6, Rocket 5 (OT) – Let’s quickly get to the other type of craziness. After it was 2-2 through two periods, the two teams combined for six goals. Laval took the lead, then allowed three straight and found themselves down two with less than six minutes to go. However, Jesse Ylonen and J-S Dea were able to score 50 seconds apart to get it to overtime but Oskari Laaksonen’s first of the year gave Rochester the extra point.
Goals: Laurent Dauphin (6)
Assists: Xavier Ouellet (5)
Points: Laurent Dauphin (8)
+/-: Michael Pezzetta (+7)
PIMS: Louis Belpedio (34)
Shots: Laurent Dauphin (29)
News And Notes
– Ryan Poehling made his return to the lineup for the two games against Rochester after dealing with an undisclosed injury that Poehling called more of a precautionary thing.
– Louis Belpedio’s penalty minute total last week (that 32 isn’t a typo) was more than he had all of last season (28).
– Laval sits second in the league in total penalty minutes with 179. From what you read earlier, you can probably guess the team that’s ahead of them.
Last Game’s Lines:
Harvey-Pinard – Poehling – Belzile
Dauphin – Dea – Ylonen
Pezzetta – Vejdemo – Bourque
Roy – Gignac – Fortin
Fairbrother – Ouellet
Schueneman – Belpedio
Paquette-Bisson – Amorosa
The Week Ahead
Nov. 6: at Syracuse – The Crunch have a pair of players Montreal fans should be familiar with in Gabriel Dumont and Charles Hudon, whose return to North America saw him clear waivers and winding up right back in the minors which is what he had hoped to avoid when he left the Habs. Syracuse has won three straight to move ahead of the Rocket in the North Division.
Nov. 7: at Utica – No longer Vancouver’s farm team, New Jersey’s affiliate is a perfect 4-0 to start the season led by one of their top prospects in Alexander Holtz who has five goals already. And if you happened to be reading this and wondering what former Hab Brian Flynn is up to for some reason, he’s back in North America after some time overseas and is playing for the Comets.
The decision to send Cole Caufield down to Laval was met with some criticism but you won’t hear that from me. I’m a firm believer that time in the minors benefits just about every prospect and Caufield should be no exception. We know he can score but we also know shooters are streaky. The next step for his development is making an impact when he’s not putting the puck in the net. That wasn’t happening too often which made the demotion an understandable one.
It’s not as if there’s a roadmap for how Caufield recovers from this type of cold stretch; he hasn’t had one before at any level. Some development can be done in the NHL but there’s a reason the lower levels are developmental leagues; that’s where it’s supposed to happen. So, a trip to Laval to work on getting out of that slump makes a lot of sense.
Where I disagree with some is how long he should be down there. I’ve seen some suggest a game or two is all he needs. That’s not going to accomplish anything. Caufield could very well score a few goals this weekend and get his confidence back but that’s only part of why he’s going down. No one’s asking him to become a defensive wizard but again, how can he make a positive contribution when the puck isn’t going in? That’s the other reason why he’s going down and those lessons aren’t learned over a weekend bus trip worth of games.
I’m not saying he needs to be down in Laval for months but a few weeks wouldn’t hurt him. Of course, with the Habs being banged up right now, their hand may be forced earlier than that but if they’re going this route, at least do it right. Give him some time and less pressure to get out of this funk and that’s a gradual process, not a ‘see you back here next week’ one.