Laval’s first week of the season resembled a lot of their play from last year as they came up short on the scoreboard as they dropped both of their games to Cleveland, the affiliate for Columbus.
The Week That Was
Oct. 4: Monsters 3, Rocket 2 – Things couldn’t have gotten off to a better start as Alex Belzile scored in the opening minute and Laval even had the lead at the midway point of the third period. However, they weren’t able to hold onto the advantage and Cleveland wound up scoring the winner with less than two minutes to go in regulation.
Oct. 5: Monsters 4, Rocket 1 – Cayden Primeau made his professional debut in this one and fared pretty well all things considered. The Rocket didn’t have their ‘A’ game in this one although Belzile made it interesting with a shorthanded marker in the third but they couldn’t get the tying goal before Cleveland potted a pair of empty-netters.
Goals: Alex Belzile (2)
Assists: Belzile/Evans/Ouellet (1)
Points: Alex Belzile (54)
+/-: 10 tied with (E)
PIMS: Maxim Lamarche (4)
Shots: Charles Hudon (8)
News And Notes
– The back end will soon get a boost with Gustav Olofsson making it unclaimed through waivers, He didn’t even make it through two games before suffering another shoulder injury last season but when healthy, he should be a key part of their top four.
– Laval signed centre Kevin Lynch to a one-year AHL deal. He missed all of last season due to injury but before that, he had settled in as a useful bottom-six forward with Syracuse. Capable injury depth is never a bad thing to have in the minors, especially if players wind up getting recalled to the Habs at some point.
– Xavier Ouellet was named captain, a decision that doesn’t come as much surprise considering that he had that role down the stretch last year. Wearing the A’s are another pair of veteran players in Karl Alzner and Dale Weise.
– The Rocket sent five players to the ECHL level. Goalie Connor LaCouvee and winger Morgan Adams-Moisan rejoined Maine (NYR) while netminder Michael McNiven along with wingers Hayden Verbeek and Antoine Waked were assigned to Adirondack (NJ).
Last Game’s Lines:
Hudon – Evans – Belzile
Peca – Varone – Weise
Jevpalovs – Poehling – Barber
Alain – Vejdemo – Lynch
Ouellet – Brook
Sklenicka – Lamarche
Alzner – Leskinen
The Week Ahead
Oct. 12: at Milwaukee – It’s a light week ahead for Laval with the Admirals being their lone opponent. Considering they’ve only played one game (a loss), it’s too early to make any inferences based on the standings so instead, I’ll note that their roster contains Jarred Tinordi who continues to toil away at the minor league level but has suited up in just seven NHL games since the Habs dealt him back in January 2016. Rem Pitlick, the older brother of Montreal fifth-rounder Rhett Pitlick, is also on the team as he begins his first full professional season.
I’m very intrigued to see how Ryan Poehling fares with Laval. There’s no denying that he’ll see NHL action this season but at the same time, his showing in the first two games shows he can certainly benefit from playing under Joel Bouchard. I know Marc Bergevin is going out of his way to say that he won’t be there for long but unless there’s an injury down the middle in Montreal (or Max Domi shifts to the wing), there isn’t really a viable spot for Poehling to come up and play in and I’m not a fan of putting him on the fourth line. Poehling is understandably disappointed with being the final cut but I think this will work out well for him once he gets acclimated to Bouchard’s system (which is similar to Montreal’s). I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes a few weeks for him to really take off though and if that is the case, his stint with the Rocket will probably be longer than a lot of people expect.