After a stint on the road, Laval was back home for an important series against division rival Syracuse. The Rocket made the most of it, sweeping all three to move up to third in the division in points percentage.
The Week That Was
Feb. 9: Rocket 6, Crunch 2 – Cam Hillis made an immediate strong impression after being recalled, scoring a pair of goals to get Laval going. Peter Abbandonato scored the third goal of this one which stood up as the game-winner, making it three winners in his three goals while Joel Teasdale potted his first of the season in the dying seconds of the game.
Feb. 11: Rocket 2, Crunch 1 (OT) – This one needed a late comeback. In what proved to be his final game with Laval, Brandon Baddock tied it up in the third period (earning the first-star nod in the process) while veteran J-S Dea scored the winner in overtime. Former Hab prospect Gabriel Dumont had the lone goal for the Crunch.
Feb. 12: Rocket 5, Crunch 1 – While Laval was out-chanced in the first period, they skated away with a two-goal lead and then doubled it in the second when Teasdale scored followed by Gabriel Bourque potting his second shorthanded goal of the week. Kevin Poulin was only beat by Charles Hudon in the third as the veteran made 38 stops, the most he has had in an AHL game since February 24th, 2016.
Goals: Jean-Sebastien Dea (14)
Assists: Roy/Ylonen (13)
Points: Jesse Ylonen (20)
+/-: Rafael Harvey-Pinard (+12)
PIMS: Louie Belpedio (53)
Shots: Danick Martel (84)
News And Notes
– With Cayden Primeau being sent down by the Habs, Laval released Louis-Philip Guindon from his tryout deal. They also released defenceman Charles-David Beaudoin who is heading to play in Sweden. Winger Justin Ducharme was recalled from Trois-Rivieres of the ECHL.
– Lukas Vejdemo is day-to-day while Alex Belzile will be out for a couple of weeks. There’s no timetable for Gianni Fairbrother but it appears he’ll be out for a while as well.
– Laval had four players and a staff member enter COVID protocol on Tuesday, prompting the postponement of Wednesday’s game in Belleville. They have already played the fewest games in the AHL (tied with Toronto) and any more postponements will really make for a compressed schedule down the stretch. That’s a tough scenario considering the Habs will likely be pulling some players away as they sell off some of their veterans too.
– J-C Beaudin was a late scratch on Saturday, paving the way for Josh Brook to get into his first game of the season where he served as the seventh defenceman.
Last Game’s Lines:
Martel – Dea – Ylonen
Harvey-Pinard – Abbandonato – Roy
Teasdale – Bourque – Fortin
Ducharme – Hillis
Ouellet – Belpedio
Niku – Paquette-Bisson
Schueneman – Dello
The Week Ahead
Feb. 18: at Syracuse – Yes, them again. They were supposed to play the Senators to at least see one different opponent before this rematch but it wasn’t meant to be. The Crunch don’t have any games this week before this one either. Four games against an opponent is rare in the regular season so this could be interesting.
Feb. 20: at Rochester – The Americans are eight points ahead of Laval in the standings but the Rocket have seven games in hand which gives them a higher points percentage and (for now, at least) the third seed in the North Division. Rochester just got their starting goalie back in Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen which will give them a list although they are without Jack Quinn and Peyton Krebs, their two top youngsters.
Feb. 21: at Toronto – Technically, this is next week but this game will have been played by the time the next recap column is done. The Marlies recently added veterans Nick Ritchie and Kyle Clifford to their roster with both having recently cleared waivers. Former Laval forward Joseph Blandisi has impressed, notching 13 points in 14 games, making me wonder what took so long for him to get a contract and why the Habs opted to not bring him back on even a minor league deal.
When Danick Martel signed in the offseason, I thought he’d be one of Laval’s go-to players. While his days of battling for an NHL spot were done, he had a pretty consistent history of being an above-average top-six scorer so there was a lot of reason for optimism. But yikes, he has struggled. He has scored just once in the last two months and had earned himself a pretty regular spot on the fourth line until some recent injuries moved him back up the lineup. It seems likely that Montreal is going to pull another couple of players from the Rocket in the coming weeks so they’re really going to need Martel to live up to his track record and start to become a consistent producer. With a very heavy back half of the schedule, he’s going to get plenty of opportunities to produce if nothing else.