There were some ups and downs for Laval over the past week but they were able to come away with a pair of much-needed victories as they look to start trying to climb out of the basement in the Eastern Conference.
The Week That Was
Nov. 16: Laval 4, Abbotsford 2 – Cayden Primeau has been hit or miss this season with not a lot of performances falling in between those two descriptors. This was one of his ‘hit’ games as he was on pretty much all game, holding the Canucks at bay. Anthony Richard had a pair of goals including the clincher into the empty net which was a shorthanded marker with Primeau getting his first assist of the season.
Nov. 18: Cleveland 7, Laval 3 – And this game fell into the ‘miss’ category for Primeau. At least, one period did. The Rocket were down 2-1 after 40 minutes, hardly an insurmountable deficit to climb back from but things fell apart from there. The Monsters had four power plays in the third period when you add in a carryover chance from the second period. They scored on all four of them and that was the difference.
Nov. 19: Laval 5, Cleveland 4 (SO) – This game was all Laval but Jet Greaves stole the show for Cleveland, allowing them to come away with at least one point. Danick Martel tied it up in the third to force overtime and after that solved nothing, it took an eight-round shootout for the Rocket to skate away victorious with Brandon Gignac potting the winner.
Shootout – Skaters:
Shootout – Goalies:
Goals: Anthony Richard (11)
Assists: Xavier Simoneau (9)
Points: Anthony Richard (16)
+/-: Tory Dello (+7)
PIMS: Anthony Richard (20)
Shots: Rafael Harvey-Pinard (55)
News And Notes
– Rem Pitlick was recalled and later returned to Laval so he wound up missing only the game against Abbotsford.
– Brennan Saulnier was traded to Belleville for future considerations. He didn’t see any action with Laval this season and had been in the ECHL so the move at least gives him a chance to play at the AHL level.
– Anthony Richard’s two goals against Abbotsford have him sitting atop the AHL in goals scored with 11. For context, he had 17 in 71 games last season.
Last Game’s Lines:
Richard – Gignac – Pitlick
Harvey-Pinard – Abbandonato – Simoneau
Martel – Stephens – Ylonen
Condotta – Schnarr – Bourque
Schueneman – Barron
Norlinder – Dello
Leskinen – Bowey
The Week Ahead
Wednesday – vs Abbotsford – The four-game homestand ends the way it started with Vancouver’s farm team back in town after a pair of games in Toronto. Lane Pederson has quietly been impactful since coming over from Carolina as the little-remembered part of the Ethan Bear trade as he’s averaging a point per game with his new team. Two veterans (Christian Wolanin and Justin Dowling) and a rookie (Linus Karlsson) sit atop the team lead in scoring.
Friday/Saturday – at Belleville – The Senators have added a pair of veterans in recent weeks with the signing of Cory Conacher and the assignment of defenceman Nikita Zaitsev and aren’t far off being at full strength which gives them one of the deeper lineups in the conference. Their leading scorer is former Hab prospect Jake Lucchini which gives me another opportunity to mention how much of a mistake it was to give him to Belleville for free. I know Laval could certainly use him back right about now.
The return of Mike Matheson in Montreal now has the Habs carrying eight defencemen. While there’s a legitimate case to be made that no one has deserved to be sent down among the blueliners, that’s only part of the reason that one wasn’t sent down. The other, the one that isn’t getting any attention, is the fact there isn’t any room for them.
With William Trudeau being cleared to return, Laval is back up to nine healthy rearguards. There has been a rotation of blueliners over the last several weeks with all but Justin Barron and Corey Schueneman avoiding being scratched. If you add someone from the Habs to that group, now you’re scratching four defenders and if you look at the lineup above from last game, there aren’t any deserving candidates to come out (Dello is a key part of the back end despite being on an AHL deal). Alleviating one problem in Montreal only creates a bigger one in Laval.
While I don’t think this was the main reason that Montreal is opting for the less-than-ideal approach of carrying eight defencemen, I think it was a factor. And, frankly, there isn’t much Laval can do about it right now. It’s not a position they should want to trade from as if they did, an injury and a recall later could leave them scrambling for depth under some duress. It’s a good problem to have and one they’ll have to ride out for the time being and the Canadiens are doing their part to not make a difficult situation any harder than it has to be.