Laval’s offensive woes struck again as they weren’t able to take advantage of a depleted Marlies back end and they wound up splitting their pair of games as a result.
The Week That Was
Dec. 21: Rocket 2, Marlies 1 – Despite Toronto missing four of their regular defencemen, Laval’s offence was very quiet for the most part. Michael McCarron continued his improve run as of late and scored to tie the game in the second period while Cale Fleury picked up the game-winner in the third to extend their streak of games with at least a point to five.
Dec. 22: Marlies 2, Rocket 0 – Things weren’t any better offensively in this one. You know things are going badly when in an effort to give the forwards a boost, Xavier Ouellet was moved to the wing instead of staying on defence. Etienne Marcoux had a strong outing between the pipes for Laval, his second good start after an abysmal first appearance.
Goals: Byron Froese (10)
Assists: Alex Belzile (17)
Points: Alex Belzile (22)
+/-: Byron Froese (+6)
PIMS: Michael McCarron (39)
Shots: Alex Belzile (78)
News And Notes
– After playing on Friday, Simon Despres was released from his PTO to suit up for Canada in this week’s Spengler Cup. Knowing that this release was coming, Laval recalled Adam Plant from Maine (ECHL) and Michal Moravcik from Brampton (ECHL) although neither got into a game.
– Winger Morgan Adams-Moisan has been returned to Maine. He played just once since being recalled back on December 10th.
– Charlie Lindgren has been ruled out of the next three games as he continues to work his way back from a lower-body injury. He has resumed skating at least so his return shouldn’t be too far away.
– With Brett Kulak up with the Habs, Cale Fleury now leads all Laval defencemen in goals this season (with a whopping two). Rocket rearguards have combined to score just 13 times this season (and seven of those have come from players that aren’t on the team right now).
Last Game’s Lines:
Belzile – McCarron – Alain
Jevpalovs – Evans – Froese
Shinkaruk – Vejdemo – Grenier
Audette – Martineau
Alzner – Juulsen
Ouellet – Lamarche
Sklenicka – Fleury
The Week Ahead
Dec. 27: at Belleville – The Baby Sens have struggled as of late which has allowed Laval to tie them for seventh in the division instead of being dead last on their own. Drake Batherson, who sits fifth in the league in points per game among regular AHL players, was sent back by Ottawa last week and with them being off until Friday like Montreal is, it’s conceivable that they’ll have their full lineup intact against Laval before recalling some players for their next NHL game.
Dec. 28/29: vs Charlotte – The Checkers continue to be the class of the league so Laval is going to be in tough to pick up points here. Charlotte will be without Martin Necas for both games as he’s on loan to the Czechs for the World Juniors but they still have plenty of firepower headed up by Andrew Poturalski and Janne Kuokkanen. Scott Darling will likely get one of the two starts as he tries to work his way back up to the NHL while Zack Stortini, who looked finished as a player when he was in Montreal’s system back in 2012-13, is still kicking around and is playing a part-time role for the Checkers.
With Simon Despres now off to the Spengler Cup, the question becomes whether or not he signs back with them when the tournament is done. Personally, I think the question is should they even want to bring him back?
It’s safe to say that Karl Alzner and Xavier Ouellet are going to be sticking around for a while. The same can be said for Brett Lernout and Cale Fleury on the right side. Montreal’s depth on the back end means that one of Noah Juulsen or Victor Mete is probably going to be on the roster for a couple of months. Maxim Lamarche has proven to be worthy of regular ice time. That’s six spots filled right there and we haven’t even gotten to David Sklenicka and Michal Moravcik, a pair of prospects on NHL contracts who need playing time to develop.
There just isn’t room now for Despres. There was room when they offered him a guaranteed deal at the start of the season which he declined. From a development standpoint, I don’t want to see prospects sitting just because he can’t find a better contract somewhere else. They moved on from Ryan Sproul who has a better track record in recent years so if they can do that with him, they can do so with Despres, whether he wants to come back or not.