Although the road hasn’t been too kind to Laval this season, they had a decent showing on the road and picked up some key points in the process.
The Week That Was
Feb. 13: Comets 4, Rocket 1 – The week didn’t get off to a good start as Laval struggled considerably in the first period and by the time they were able to recover, the damage had already been done. Michael Pezzetta had the lone Rocket goal on the power play, signalling how bad their depth is when Pezzetta, a fourth liner who has been in and out of the lineup, is taking a regular turn with the man advantage.
Feb. 15: Rocket 4, Devils 3 – With Binghamton having a very strong roster, this was looking like a likely loss. However, the Rocket were much more prepared to play from the opening draw and worked their way to a 3-0 lead by the midway mark of the game. They nearly gave it all back and at the end, Daniel Audette’s empty-netter wound up standing as the game-winner.
Feb. 16: Rocket 5, Devils 2 – This time, Laval saved the best for last. The two sides were tied at two apiece after 40 minutes but Lukas Vejdemo, Alex Belzile, and Audette (again into the empty net) all scored in the third period to put the Rocket on a rare winning streak. Michael McNiven picked up his first win in over three weeks in this one.
Feb. 18: Senators 4, Rocket 3 (OT) – Michael Chaput made his presence felt early with a pair of goals including a shorthanded tally in the second that for a while looked like it would hold up as the winner. However, Belleville, who has been on quite the run lately, tied it up late as Nick Paul scored with just over two minutes left in regulation and then potted the winner in overtime. Laval had a goal called back in the OT for goalie interference.
Goals: Byron Froese (14)
Assists: Alex Belzile (27)
Points: Alex Belzile (40)
+/-: Alzner/Lernout (+8)
PIMS: Alex Belzile (62)
Shots: Alex Belzile (127)
News And Notes
– Xavier Ouellet was named as Laval’s new captain, replacing Byron Froese who was dealt to Philadelphia earlier this month.
– Hunter Shinkaruk is out long-term with an upper-body injury. To replace him, the team recalled Morgan Adams-Moisan from ECHL Maine while signing Marc-Olivier Roy (Fort Wayne, ECHL) to a PTO deal (before releasing him early this week).
– Daniel Audette has matched his career high in points (30) which he set back in his rookie year of 2016-17. After taking 75 games to reach that mark that year, he only needed 47 to get there this season.
Last Game’s Lines:
Audette – Evans – Belzile
Kile – Chaput – Grenier
Jevpalovs – Vejdemo – Alain
Pezzetta – Verbeek – Adams-Moisan
Ouellet – Lernout
Alzner – Fleury
Sklenicka – Lamarche
The Week Ahead
Feb. 20: at Syracuse – After a slow start, the Crunch have been the hottest team in the North Division as of late and are now in a battle for first place. They’re the stingiest defensive team in the conference which doesn’t bode well for a Laval team that has scored the fewest goals per night of any team in the conference.
Feb. 22/23: vs Manitoba – It’s a rare out-of-conference set for the Rocket as they return home following their stint of 11 games out of 12 on the road. The Moose have struggled this season and could very well be resting players in anticipation for a trade to bolster Winnipeg so the timing of this set could be good for Laval.
Last week, the focus was on trade odds for Laval’s goalies and defencemen. This week, the focus is on their forwards but quite frankly, the list of forwards that a team might have interest in is pretty small.
Lukas Vejdemo: 25% – Now 23, Vejdemo’s NHL upside is somewhat limited. He looks like he could be a fourth liner but the Habs have a lot of those players already. If the team does decide to pursue a secondary rental piece, he’s the type of prospect I think Marc Bergevin would be willing to part with.
Jake Evans: 15% – While Evans has gone cold again, I don’t think the Habs are particularly disappointed with his development. He hasn’t looked out of place as a full-time top-six forward in Laval and next year will really tell the tale of his NHL upside. In the meantime, he’s not among that class of untouchable prospects but it would take a notable player coming Montreal’s way for Evans to be moved.
Daniel Audette: 5% – While he has played better as of late, Audette’s NHL upside is still in question to the point where I don’t think there’s a team out there that sees what he has done and says he needs to get a look with an NHL team. At this point, he’s trying to play his way into a qualifying offer and players in that situation rarely have tangible trade value.
After that, there really isn’t much to look at. Rookies like Michael Pezzetta and Hayden Verbeek have been marginal fourth liners that won’t interest teams while they’re down several players on NHL deals to long-term injuries in Michael McCarron, Antoine Waked, and Hunter Shinkaruk which pretty much gets rid of any hypothetical trade value they would have had. Michael Chaput just cleared waivers so a trade with him is quite unlikely and Montreal would probably rather hold onto him for injury insurance anyway.