Last week was an opportunity for the Rocket as they were against teams behind them in the standings. They didn’t quite make the most of it but didn’t lose much ground either as they picked up a win and a pair of overtime losses.
The Week That Was
Jan. 25: Belleville 2, Laval 1 (OT) – Cayden Primeau’s return to the Rocket was a good one but unfortunately, the goal support wasn’t there as Kevin Mandolese was just as sharp at the other end. Joel Teasdale’s goal in the first held up until close to the midway point of the third when Jake Lucchini tied it up. In overtime, Scott Sabourin (who has become a bit of a scorer this year) picked up the winner a little past the midway mark.
Jan. 27: Cleveland 3, Laval 2 (OT) – Once again, Teasdale scored in the first but a thorn in Laval’s side all season long (Trey Fix-Wolansky) tied it up with just a second left in the period. Mattias Norlinder (finally) scored his first of the year early in the third but that lead barely lasted two minutes before it was all square again. The Rocket managed to kill off an overtime power play but just after it ended, Josh Dunne potted the winner in the final minute of the extra session.
Jan. 28: Laval 7, Cleveland 4 – The rematch went much better for the Rocket. Teasdale once again scored in the first (though it was the second goal of the game) but it was Lucas Condotta who stole the show with his first career professional hat trick. Anthony Richard added a pair while Riley McKay picked up his first career AHL goal (he was a secondary element of the Cam Hillis trade from earlier in the season if you’re wondering).
Goals: Anthony Richard (22)
Assists: Peter Abbandonato (23)
Points: Anthony Richard (42)
+/-: Beaudin/Dello/Schueneman (+7)
PIMS: William Trudeau (42)
Shots: Anthony Richard (127)
News And Notes
– While Laval did get Brandon Gignac back, they did wind up with more injuries as Gabriel Bourque missed all three games due to a lower-body injury while an undisclosed injury kept Kevin Poulin away from the team for the trip in Cleveland.
– Philippe Desrosiers was brought back from Trois-Rivieres to serve as the backup in Poulin’s absence (after being sent down one day earlier) while Riley McKay also was promoted from the Lions. At this point, Brett Stapley is the last AHL-contracted player down there.
– Four of Laval’s top eight point-getters are currently up with the Canadiens so the fact they’ve picked up four wins in seven games (and a loser point in the other three) is quite impressive.
Last Game’s Lines:
Richard – Abbandonato – Simoneau
Condotta – Stephens – Schnarr
Teasdale – Gignac – Dube
Francis – Beauregard – McKay
Trudeau – Schueneman
Norlinder – Williams
Galipeau – Centorame
The Week Ahead
Friday/Saturday – at Toronto – Things haven’t gone well against the Marlies this season as Laval has lost all four matchups. Toronto is one of the top teams in the league and the Rocket, let’s face it, are still a middling squad even though they have at least a point in seven straight games. It’ll be a good test for Cayden Primeau, that’s for sure, as Laval will need the goaltending battle to go their way. Former Hab Logan Shaw has done quite well against his former organization, notching ten points in their four matchups while Xavier Simoneau is averaging more than a point per game against the Marlies so far.
With Laval’s injury situation on the back end, there are opportunities there for the taking. One prospect certainly is doing just that and another is doing anything but.
After a slow start to the season, William Trudeau has started to find his footing a bit more and is being used in all situations as the top defenceman for the Rocket. That’s a tough spot for a rookie to be put in but he’s not just surviving, he’s thriving. That’s certainly encouraging to see from a defender that’s still somewhat low on the organizational depth chart.
That opportunity should have been filled by Mattias Norlinder. Viewed as one of the top prospects for the Habs not that long ago, this was the perfect chance to step up and show that he still should be in the class of someone like Jordan Harris. Instead, his production has been limited all season long (he just scored his first goal this past week) and while there has been some improvement defensively, he’s not at a level where he can be trusted enough yet.
Trudeau is certainly making the most of this chance and has turned some heads, mine included. Norlinder, however, is going in the opposite direction. As is always the case with prospect development, there’s going to be some good with the bad but here’s hoping Norlinder can find a way to make more of an impact soon.