Between their own injuries and Montreal’s lengthy additions to their IR list, Laval doesn’t have the strongest of lineups right now. However, they were able to muster up enough offence to pick up a win and stay within striking distance of a play-in spot.
The Week That Was
Jan. 11: Rochester 3, Laval 1 – After out-shooting Toronto by a significant margin and losing, history repeated itself in this one. Malcolm Subban made 41 saves for the Amerks and while Kevin Poulin only allowed two goals (the other was an empty-netter), it wasn’t quite enough for the win. Lucas Condotta had the lone goal for the Rocket.
Jan. 13: Syracuse 7, Laval 3 – Laval was in this one through the first period despite a bit of a tough start from Joe Vrbetic but things went downhill from there. Vrbetic allowed three more goals before the midway point of the second and at that point, the damage was done even with Poulin playing well in relief.
Jan. 14: Laval 6, Cleveland 2 – The top line was sharp in this one, combining for four goals including three from Alex Belzile as they took advantage of the Monsters starting someone making his AHL debut and having a tough game while Poulin played well at the other end. Trey Fix-Wolansky had points on both goals for Cleveland, giving him 11 points (out of 17 Cleveland goals) against the Rocket this season.
Goals: Anthony Richard (18)
Assists: Jesse Ylonen (19)
Points: Anthony Richard (35)
+/-: Beaudin/Dello/Schueneman (+7)
PIMS: William Trudeau (38)
Shots: Rafael Harvey-Pinard (121)
News And Notes
– There was no help from the infirmary last week while they also lost Nicolas Beaudin to an upper-body injury that will keep him out for four to six weeks. There was also some additional clarity on Madison Bowey’s upper-body injury and he’ll miss two to three weeks.
– The injuries in Montreal resulted in Rafael Harvey-Pinard and Rem Pitlick being recalled. Accordingly, Laval is now carrying strictly the minimum-sized roster at all positions.
– While Mattias Norlinder picked up an assist this past week, it was just his second point (both assists) in the last two months. He’s still looking for his first goal of the season, hardly an ideal situation for an offensive-minded defenceman.
Last Game’s Lines:
Harvey-Pinard – Belzile – Pitlick
Richard – Abbandonato – Simoneau
Teasdale – Stephens – Bourque
Condotta – Schnarr – Beauregard
Trudeau – Schueneman
Norlinder – Williams
Galipeau – Centorame
The Week Ahead
Wednesday – at Rochester – This game will likely have finished by the time you’re reading this so I won’t get into too much of a preview. Buffalo has been paper-shuffling prospects down in recent days in an effort to keep Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen up with the big club which is good news for Laval. However, as Malcolm Subban showed last week, he’s more than good enough to steal a game in his own right.
Friday – vs Hershey – The Bears are a team that is quite often at the top of the league and they’re right near that mark again this season as they sit atop the Eastern Conference. They don’t have a single regular averaging more than a point per game but instead ice a very balanced attack with some quality prospects (Hendrix Lapierre and Connor McMichael) seeing secondary minutes as Washington tries to slow-play their development. Former Hab Zach Fucale is still their starter and while his save percentage is down this season, he’s still sporting a solid 2.50 GAA.
Saturday – vs Toronto – The Marlies have given Laval some challenges this season as they’ve taken all three head-to-head matchups so far while Toronto leads the North Division. Logan Shaw continues to show the type of production no one thought he had back in his days with the Habs as he’s second in the league in scoring while Joseph Woll, who stole their matchup less than two weeks ago, has won each of his ten games since returning from an injury.
When the Habs sent Rem Pitlick back to Laval last month, one of the suspected reasons was that he was getting close to needing waivers to get sent back down. That’s what initially made his recall earlier in the week a bit surprising as it was basically setting him up for having to hit the wire again in the near future.
Then came the announcement that Juraj Slafkovsky will be out for three months. All of a sudden, the Pitlick recall made more sense. Barring him struggling considerably, his time with Laval may very well have come to an end. Remember, the Habs went out of their way to avoid waiving him the first time, going to almost comical lengths to invent injuries to keep Pitlick on the active roster. (Remember those days? They seem so long ago…)
With Slafkovsky’s absence, now they have their roster spot to keep Pitlick up the rest of the way before even getting into the potential sell-off closer to the trade deadline. He was already a lock to come up for the stretch run (and not be papered back for potential playoff eligibility) but it seemed like Laval would have their top offensive weapon for at least a few more weeks. That may not be the case any longer; Pitlick might be up for good now.