After a week off, Laval had a busy schedule last week with a pair of games against Toronto and Belleville. Each time, they were only able to pick up the victory in the latter of the two contests.
The Week That Was
Mar. 8: Senators 3, Rocket 0 – This was the first proverbial ‘egg’ game of the season as Laval was largely listless at the start and didn’t really find their skating legs until the second half of the game. They weren’t terrible defensively but a couple of mistakes proved costly as they were shut out for the first time this season.
Mar. 10: Rocket 3, Senators 1 – Once again, Laval was better in the second half of the game but they were nothing short of dominant in the second period even though they only scored once. Jan Mysak picked up his first career AHL goal early in the third which held up as the winner while Alex Belzile’s first of the season since returning from injury gave them a late insurance goal.
Mar. 12: Marlies 4, Rocket 3 – The second period was the downfall for Laval in this one. After trading goals in the first, some of Toronto’s reinforcements in Alexander Barabanov and Alex Galchenyuk both scored (after Nic Petan scored in the first) but the back-breaker came on a late shorthanded goal which held up as the winner. One of Toronto’s other reinforcements was Scott Sabourin who ran into Cayden Primeau on the opening shift before pummeling Lukas Vejdemo in a fight. He was ejected and subsequently suspended for one game.
Mar. 14: Rocket 5, Marlies 4 (SO) – Finally, Laval got off to a good start and held a 3-0 lead early in the second period. Unfortunately, things went downhill from there with Toronto scoring three in the third period including two in the final three minutes of regulation. However, the Rocket were able to get the extra point with Belzile scoring the only goal in the shootout.
Shootout – Skaters:
Shootout – Goalies:
Goals: Vejdemo/Veilleux (4)
Assists: Jordan Weal (6)
Points: Lukas Vejdemo (9)
+/-: Brook/Leskinen/Vejdemo (+6)
PIMS: Joseph Blandisi (14)
Shots: Otto Leskinen (33)
News And Notes
– Laval gained a defenceman when Vancouver loaned Guillaume Brisebois to the Rocket although he had to serve a long quarantine period before he could suit up. In the short-term, he’ll take the place of Gustav Olofsson who left the team for the birth of his child and will face a two-week quarantine upon his return.
– With Kaiden Guhle and Gianni Fairbrother back in junior, Laval signed blueliners Tristan Pomerleau (ATO) and Terence Amorosa (PTO) to tryout contracts.
– Jordan Weal finished the week on a nine-game goal drought which isn’t the production they’re expecting from their top centre.
Last Game’s Lines:
Harvey-Pinard – Weal – Ylonen
Veilleux – Vejdemo – Belzile
Blandisi – Poehling – Teasdale
Baddock – Mysak – Khisamutdinov
Schueneman – Leskinen
Bisson – Fleury
Halbert – Brook
The Week Ahead
Mar. 15: vs Belleville – With this being a rare Monday game, it has already been played so there’s no point in previewing it here. Good news – they won.
Mar. 18/20/21: vs Stockton – Calgary’s farm team left California and headed north this season to join the Canadian Division although they’re playing a shorter schedule than the rest. The Heat head into this stretch with the highest point percentage in the division although they will be without their starting goalie and top defenceman who were both recalled. Prospects Adam Ruzicka and Matthew Phillips lead the way with 14 points apiece in just 11 games.
While I don’t think we’re at the point just where it’s time to panic about Ryan Poehling, we are approaching the point where it’s fair to be a little concerned. While some are criticizing the fact he has largely been on the third line lately, that’s the position he has earned. He isn’t good enough offensively to anchor the front line and Lukas Vejdemo has vastly outplayed him to earn the spot on the second line. Yes, Poehling has more upside (in theory) but until he starts to produce with some regularity, there isn’t much of a case to elevate him in the lineup.
Is there still an NHL ceiling for Poehling? Sure, but it’s dipping quickly. At this point, unless he can figure out how to produce more than sporadically, the ceiling is starting to look like a fourth liner. He’s someone that’s good enough in his own end to handle 8-10 minutes per game and not be a net negative. As long as he’s cheap, that’s still a role of some small value for the Habs who are going to have to trim from their bottom six very quickly to afford other pieces. But that’s also not what anyone was hoping for when he was picked in the first round in 2017, especially after his three-goal debut which feels like ages ago.
Joel Bouchard has shown some promise in terms of developing prospects in his brief tenure with Laval. Poehling is one that has seemingly gone in the opposite direction since turning pro and while it’s still only his second full professional season (one that’s barely a half-year), I think there is some valid cause for concern. He has the skills to turn things around but now, it’s about having some on-ice success and not just potential.