Western Canada wasn’t kind to Laval as they were only able to pick up a single win in four games. They did, however, get some help with other teams losing, allowing them to narrowly hold onto second place in the North Division for now.
The Week That Was
Mar. 29: Moose 4, Rocket 3 (SO) – Looking at the score alone, it’d be reasonable to think that Cayden Primeau didn’t have a strong outing but that wasn’t the case as he was hung out to dry on several occasions. Laval actually never trailed in this one, holding the lead on three separate occasions thanks to Primeau’s strong performance but a late power play goal from Morgan Barron (Justin’s brother who was traded to Winnipeg at the deadline) tied it up and Mikey Eyssimont had the lone goal in the shootout to give Manitoba the extra point.
Mar. 30: Rocket 4, Moose 2 – Truthfully, Laval’s defence wasn’t much better in this one but this time, they got just enough offence to pick up the win. They were able to beat Arvid Holm three times in the first half of the second period with the last goal out of that bunch from Louie Belpedio standing up as the winner. Kevin Poulin was sharp once again with 36 saves plus his second assist of the season in the victory.
Apr. 2: Canucks 6, Rocket 1 – This time, Primeau wasn’t particularly sharp and the combination of that and an offence that basically fired blanks all night (their lone goal came with eight seconds left) made for a long evening. The turning point in this one was with one second left in the first when Abbotsford scored on their 19th shot to make it 3-0, taking it from a potentially gettable game to a possible blowout in the process.
Apr. 3: Canucks 3, Rocket 1 – Laval deserved a better fate in this one as they put forth arguably their best performance of the week. However, Abbotsford’s goaltending is among the best in the AHL for a reason. Xavier Ouellet’s sixth of the season halfway through the third tied it up but Jack Rathbone potted the eventual winner six minutes later and the Rocket couldn’t capitalize on a late power play to tie it up which led to an empty-netter in the final minute.
Shootout – Skaters:
Shootout – Goalies:
Goals: Jean-Sebastien Dea (19)
Assists: Xavier Ouellet (24)
Points: Rafael Harvey-Pinard (39)
+/-: Rafael Harvey-Pinard (+22)
PIMS: Louie Belpedio (80)
Shots: Danick Martel (140)
News And Notes
– Sami Niku returned although he was the one who took the delay of game penalty that led to Manitoba tying the game on Tuesday night.
– On the injury front, Cedric Paquette is dealing with what’s believed to be a minor injury that shouldn’t keep him out for too much longer.
– Lucas Condotta and Emil Heineman both officially signed PTO agreements with Laval, giving them a couple of extra forwards for the stretch run.
– Laval’s points percentage on the road this season is just .414. That’s the lowest in the North Division and is particularly noteworthy since they’re a week away from heading out on a five-game road trip.
Last Game’s Lines:
Harvey-Pinard – Dea – Martel
Gignac – Schnarr – Roy
Bourque – Vejdemo – Teasdale
Abbandonato – Beaudin – Smith-Pelly
Ouellet – Niku
Amorosa – Belpedio
Galipeau – Mattinen
The Week Ahead
Apr. 6/8: vs Rochester – The Americans hold down the final play-in spot in the North so these are two games that both teams are looking at as must-wins. Rookie Jack Quinn has four three-point games since returning to the lineup last month to put him among the leaders in points per game while fellow rookie J.J. Peterka is the top-scoring freshman in the AHL, sitting tenth in league scoring. Former Hab defenceman Brandon Davidson is among the depth players on Rochester’s roster as well. The Amerks lead the conference in goals scored but they also have allowed the most.
Apr. 9: vs Utica – Nate Schnarr gets to face off against his former team for the first time in this one. The Comets are close to clinching a playoff spot and currently hold an 18-point lead on Laval (so they’re also quite close to clinching the division). They have a strong veteran forward group but also have promising rookie Alexander Holtz who is averaging a point per game while Akira Schmid is impressing between the pipes with Nico Daws (who the Habs could see later this week) up with the Devils.
I’m intrigued to see where Laval’s newcomers (Condotta and Heineman) slot into the lineup. Jesse Ylonen isn’t coming back anytime soon and while Alex Belzile is getting closer to returning, there are definitely spots in the lineup for both of them to potentially play important roles. There are several underachievers on the wings where Heineman could slot in while Condotta’s ability to play centre and the wing makes him a strong candidate to start on the fourth line and go from there.
Part of the issue for the Rocket lately has been complacency as a lack of healthy options has taken away some of the energy they had in the early going this season as with no one pushing to take your spot, it’s easy to take your foot off the proverbial petal. But now, with a pair of prospects coming in (that presumably aren’t there just to practice), that shouldn’t be the case. Hopefully, that will bolster the performance of some of the underachievers while still allowing for the two new prospects to get some games in.