Laval’s hot and cold start to the season continued last week. They had their best game of the year only to follow it up with a lopsided loss the very next day and through the first three weeks, they have the lowest points percentage in the conference.
The Week That Was
Oct. 26: Belleville 3, Laval 2 – Through 40 minutes, it was a close game in terms of who controlled the play. However, the Senators dominated the play in the third period and even though the Rocket secured the lead at the midway point, it felt like a matter of time before things went sideways. Laval couldn’t score on a late power play and then Mattias Norlinder took a slashing call in the final minute, permitting Rourke Chartier to score the winner with just nine seconds left.
Oct. 28: Laval 8, Rochester 1 – That total for Laval isn’t a typo. It was tied early in the second before they started to light the lamp often. Justin Barron had a two-goal outing for his first goals with the Rocket. Xavier Simoneau had a night to remember with a ‘Gordie Howe hat trick’ which included his first professional tally. Lucas Condotta also scored his first regular season goal for Laval in this one (although he had a pair in the playoffs last season).
Oct. 29: Rochester 5, Laval 1 – This game wasn’t as bad as the score might indicate but Kevin Poulin’s early-season struggles continued. Laval actually opened up the scoring as Anthony Richard extended his goal streak to four straight but it went downhill from there as less than five minutes after he scored, the Amerks were up by two.
Goals: Bourque/Richard (4)
Assists: Leskinen/Martel (4)
Points: Anthony Richard (6)
+/-: Nate Schnarr (+3)
PIMS: Mitchell Stephens (15)
Shots: Harvey-Pinard/Ylonen (23)
News And Notes
– There were technically two trades made by Laval last week. Everyone knows the Cam Hillis for Nicolas Beaudin one (more on that later) but Laval also acquired Riley McKay from Rockford and sent the forward to Trois-Rivieres of the ECHL.
– To put Laval’s eight-goal game in perspective, they had only managed to score eight times in their previous five games combined.
– Even with Gianni Fairbrother out for the season, Laval is currently carrying nine defencemen which is certainly not an ideal scenario. Alex Green hasn’t played since the opener while Tory Dello, an impactful regular last season, now finds himself on the outside looking in. It’s not very often a team has that many capable blueliners on an AHL roster.
Last Game’s Lines:
Harvey-Pinard – Gignac – Simoneau
Richard – Stephens – Ylonen
Bourque – Mysak – Belzile
Condotta – Abbandonato – Martel
Schueneman – Barron
Trudeau – Bowey
Norlinder – Leskinen
The Week Ahead
Wednesday/Friday – vs Toronto – The Marlies are missing their usual goalie tandem as Erik Kallgren is up with the Maple Leafs and Joseph Woll is injured but that hasn’t held them back any as they sit atop the North Division early on. Former Hab Jordie Benn is on a conditioning assignment (as is Timothy Liljegren) which is currently helping their back end while Joey Anderson is averaging close to a goal per game early on.
Saturday – vs Lehigh Valley – The home stand comes to an end against the Flyers’ affiliate who are at the bottom of the Atlantic. The Phantoms have had some youngsters step up so far as two of their top four scorers are rookies while another (Tyson Foerster is in his first full professional campaign). They did get hit with a key injury over the weekend when Cam York went down which will hurt their back end which also features former Rocket blueliner Louis Belpedio.
The biggest off-ice news of the week came when the Habs sent Cam Hillis to Chicago in exchange for Nicolas Beaudin. On the surface, it looks like a no-brainer move for the Habs, moving someone who was buried in Trois-Rivieres for a former first-rounder with some NHL experience. However, it’s hardly a lopsided move like some are hoping it’d be.
While Hillis was going nowhere with the Canadiens, so too was Beaudin with the Blackhawks. He had fallen farther and farther down their depth chart to the point where he had a limited role with AHL Rockford. Guess what, he’ll have an even more limited one in Laval.
Beaudin is one of many blueliners that come out of junior as offensive-minded blueliners that can’t actually produce much offence in the pros. Every team has had that happen to them, look at Josh Brook in Montreal who put up plenty of points in the WHL but couldn’t do so with the Rocket.
Yes, he’s a good skater and the fact he can play both sides certainly helps. He’s likely to be more useful for Laval than Hillis would have been. But in the end, this probably isn’t a steal in the making but rather a swap of underachieving spare parts. As the new management team starts to move out of the old prospects, there probably will be more of these to come, just not necessarily with a former first-rounder being involved.