Laval did a nice job rebounding from a tough loss in Toronto but unfortunately, their week ended on a low note after a very tough blown lead on home ice that allowed division rival Belleville to come in and steal a victory away.
The Week That Was
Feb. 23: Rocket 6, Marlies 4 – This was a bit of a wild one. The teams combined for five goals in the first period, none in the second, and five again in the third. Laval bounced back after one of their worst games of the year on Monday and it was some of their role players that stepped up with goals as Tory Dello, Alexandre Fortin, and Joel Teasdale all scored with the latter standing up as the winner.
Feb. 25: Rocket 4, Senators 1 – Laval has played quite well at home this season and the return to familiar confines allowed them to play one of their stronger defensive games in recent weeks, limiting Belleville to just 20 shots which gave Cayden Primeau a nice quiet game in the process. Devante Smith-Pelly picked up his first goal as a member of the Rocket while Danick Martel’s shorthanded marker midway through the second period stood up as the game-winner.
Feb. 26: Senators 4, Rocket 3 – For 40 minutes and 30 seconds, everything was going smoothly for Laval. They had scored once in each period and Rafael Harvey-Pinard’s shorthanded goal 30 seconds into the third period gave them a three-goal lead, putting them in complete control. Or so it seemed. Instead, Belleville scored four times in the final 10:48 including the winner with less than a minute to go on the power play.
|28||Shawn St. Amant||3||0||1||-2||7||0|
Goals: Jean-Sebastien Dea (15)
Assists: Harvey-Pinard/Ylonen (14)
Points: Rafael Harvey-Pinard (24)
+/-: Dello/Harvey-Pinard (+16)
PIMS: Louie Belpedio (57)
Shots: Danick Martel (92)
News And Notes
– Laval didn’t get a lot of good fortune on the injury front as Lukas Vejdemo suffered a setback in his recovery and there is now no timetable for his return. However, they did everyone back from COVID protocol.
– With the players returning from COVID protocol, Mathew Santos and Louis-Philip Guindon were released from their PTO agreements while Cedric Desruisseaux was sent back to Trois-Rivieres of the ECHL.
– Defenceman Carl Neill agreed to a mutual contract termination on Monday. His next destination is not yet known and he played in 16 games for Laval this season.
Last Game’s Lines:
Harvey-Pinard – Dea – Ylonen
Bourque – Abbandonato – Teasdale
Roy – Martel – St. Amant
Fortin – Hillis – Smith-Pelly
Ouellet – Belpedio
Niku – Dello
Paquette-Bisson – Brook
The Week Ahead
Feb. 28/Mar. 2: vs Cleveland – It has taken a while but finally, Laval faces off against their division rival. The Monsters have the fewest points of any team in the conference but have picked up points in four straight games. Two of their top three scorers are up with Columbus at the moment, as is their goalie tandem with J-F Berube helping backstop the Blue Jackets to some recent victories. Former Hab prospect Cole Fonstad has 11 points in 28 games with Cleveland this season but is currently injured.
Mar. 4/5: vs Abbotsford – The Canucks are a veteran-laden squad after former GM Jim Benning spent some money to bring in some quality players for their first season in Abbotsford with Sheldon Dries having a career year to lead the way. Former Hab blueliner Noah Juulsen patrols the back end for them now while Guillaume Brisebois, who spent some time with the Rocket last season, is also on the team.
With the trade deadline now just a few weeks away, I’m a bit curious to see what happens with Laval. Things could go a lot of different ways for them. On the one hand, if the Habs get some signed prospects that are currently in the minors, the Rocket could get a huge boost and really become contenders. On the other hand, if they get some unsigned players and prospects in return for the players that move, they’re going to lose more players to permanent recalls to join the likes of Laurent Dauphin and Michael Pezzetta – players like Corey Schueneman, Sami Niku, and if they’re able to come back, Lukas Vejdemo and Alex Belzile.
It has been a trying year for Laval in a lot of circumstances but they’ve gotten through it quite well all things considered. While the NHL roster and the long-term success of the Canadiens is obviously the top priority, I’m certainly hoping to see Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton find a way to give the Rocket a boost for the stretch run and try to help ensure that at least some of their prospects will get a taste of the playoffs this season.