Laval had a trio of divisional matchups and while they were in each game, they were only able to come away with three points and lost their leading scorer in the process.
The Week That Was
Nov. 20: Marlies 2, Rocket 1 (OT) – There are some nights where Laval struggles defensively and others where they’re at the top of their game. This was one of the latter as they held Toronto to just eight shots through the first two periods. Former Laval winger Kenny Agostino went end-to-end for the winner in overtime.
Nov. 22: Rocket 6, Comets 4 – This one wasn’t their finest defensive effort but it didn’t matter as their offence stepped up. Ryan Poehling snapped his lengthy point drought while Otto Leskinen picked up his first career AHL goal in the victory.
Nov. 23: Comets 4, Rocket 2 – Nikolay Goldobin hadn’t shown much consistency offensively in the NHL which helped get him through waivers at the start of the season. He is very much a weapon in the minors though as his hat trick proved to be the difference in this one. David Sklenicka picked up his first goal of the season in the losing effort.
Goals: Charles Hudon (9)
Assists: Otto Leskinen (9)
Points: Belzile/Vejdemo (12)
+/-: Noah Juulsen (+4)
PIMS: Otto Leskinen (37)
Shots: Barber/Hudon (60)
News And Notes
– Laval added some defensive depth with the signing of Evan McEneny to a PTO deal. He’s coming off a career year offensively with Utica that saw him collect 31 points in 58 games. However, the 25-year-old is working his way back from a knee injury and is believed to be a ways away from returning still.
– The Rocket also added more defensive depth with the recall of Ryan Culkin from ECHL Maine. With Xavier Ouellet injured and Noah Juulsen sick, he’ll serve as insurance with the team heading out on the road.
– Riley Barber has been playing like a completely different player since returning from injury. In the six games since he was cleared to play, he has three goals and five assists. In the nine games he played before that, he had just a goal and two helpers. Also worth a mention is that his shooting percentage (6.7%) is barely half of his career average (12.8%) so there’s likely some positive regression to the mean to come.
– Alex Belzile suffered an injury early against Toronto and did not play in either game against Utica. There is no timetable yet for his return.
Last Game’s Lines:
Pezzetta – Poehling – Lynch
Peca – McCarron – Barber
Alain – Vejdemo – Cox
Jevpalovs – Evans – Waked
Olofsson – Sklenicka
Leskinen – Lamarche
Alzner – Brook
The Week Ahead
Nov. 27: at Belleville – While the Senators are near the bottom of the North Division standings, they have given the Rocket fits this season and have won both matchups so far. They’ve been banged up on the back end as of late to the point where between that and NHL recalls, they recently had a game without a defender on an NHL contract in their lineup. Among the many PTO blueliners they’ve used so far is former Hab prospect Tom Parisi.
Nov. 29: at Syracuse – There isn’t a ton of pure firepower on the Crunch’s roster but they feature a balanced attack. Unless Tampa sends him back over the next few days, they’ll get to avoid Cory Conacher who has always been a key threat for Syracuse. Former Hab Mike Condon is on their roster but has yet to play this season.
Nov. 30: at Springfield – Avoiding overtime might be a good idea for Laval as the Thunderbirds are 5-0 in games that go to extra time (and 7-9 in ones that end in regulation). Former Montreal prospect Daniel Audette is off to a nice start with them and is on pace for a career year while they also recently added Dryden Hunt when he cleared waivers in Florida to give them another offensive weapon.
The Habs are in a nice spot down the middle when it comes to being healthy which is great news for them and bad news for Lukas Vejdemo. He’s someone that the Habs need to get a look at for them to decide whether or not he’s going to be part of the future. With Ryan Poehling not doing much of anything with the Rocket, he shouldn’t be called up if a centre spot is opened. Jesperi Kotkaniemi may soon need a small stint with Laval. While Nick Suzuki could plausibly fill that vacated spot, that may be the opening they need to give Vejdemo a short-term look (since Kotkaniemi wouldn’t be gone for long).
If you’re looking for another reason to give Vejdemo a look, look no further than Laval’s penalty kill. It’s one of the top units in the league and he’s a big part of that. Considering how bad Montreal’s penalty kill has been, it’s quite possible that he could come in and help that unit. While he’s doing well, it’s time to give him a chance.