After an unexpected break, Laval was back in action last week and picked up right where they left off, picking up three wins in as many games over Belleville to further pad their lead in the Canadian Division.
The Week That Was
Apr. 21: Rocket 5, Senators 4 – Belleville got on the board early but Laval took care of erasing that when Tobie Paquette-Bisson picked up his first AHL tally. Joel Teasdale scored soon after and Laval added another one early in the second to take control. They then got two more to put it away…or so it seemed. One element that has hurt the Rocket at times this season is an inability to hold big leads and it nearly bit them again with Belleville scoring three in the final 10:03 of the third period including two in the final three minutes. I know they’re playing well but that’s an element that has been a problem for a bit now.
Apr. 23: Rocket 3, Senators 0 – After fading defensively in the opener, Laval put on a defensive clinic from start to finish, holding Belleville to just a dozen shots for the game (and only one in the third period). Yannick Veilleux opened the scoring and was ejected in the third for instigating a fight while Ryan Poehling and Teasdale had the other goals.
Apr. 24: Rocket 4, Senators 1 – Laval wasn’t as stingy defensively as they were the night before but they still largely shut Belleville down aside from a late second period goal. Cam Hillis scored his first career professional goal which wound up being the winner while Vasily Demchenko picked up the victory in a rare appearance.
Goals: Ryan Poehling (11)
Assists: Jordan Weal (16)
Points: Ryan Poehling (25)
+/-: Otto Leskinen (+16)
PIMS: Yannick Veilleux (50)
Shots: Poehling/Weal (59)
News And Notes
– Ryan Poehling has recorded a point in nine of his last 11 games which helped propel him to the team lead in scoring.
– Laval got good news on the injury front with Lukas Vejdemo, Alex Belzile, Jesse Ylonen, and Jan Mysak all returning. Cale Fleury didn’t suit up against Belleville but has resumed skating.
– Charlie Lindgren, who likely would have seen game action against the Sens, was instead recalled to the taxi squad due to Carey Price’s injury.
Last Game’s Lines:
Blandisi – Poehling – Lucchini
Harvey-Pinard – Weal – Ylonen
Baddock – Hillis – Mysak
Veilleux – Vejdemo – Belzile
Schueneman – Brook
Bisson – Leskinen
Amorosa – Olofsson
The Week Ahead
Technically, there’s nothing in this week as Laval is off until May 4th when they take on Toronto. This was already on the schedule; the two games that were cancelled in the middle of the month were moved to the middle of May, extending the regular season to May 17th. Considering the NHL’s four-recall rule is in place until Laval’s season comes to an end, that’s something to keep in mind.
Everybody knows Montreal’s recall situation by now. They have one left and have to pick between Alexander Romanov, Jake Evans, and Cole Caufield for that spot. (It’s worth noting that all three are eligible to play in Laval if it comes to it with the latter two not being in the NHL at the deadline and Romanov being papered down on deadline day.) It’s going to make it hard to keep Montreal’s veteran forwards fresh if they have an opportunity where they’re able to clinch early enough to try to rest someone, short of calling them day-to-day to trigger an emergency recall situation up front.
There is one card that the Canadiens can still play that has gone under the radar and that’s converting Yannick Veilleux to an NHL contract. A contract conversion is not a recall and would allow him to play down the stretch in Montreal (as long as they can stay cap-compliant which could be an adventure). This isn’t a concept they’re not aware of either; my understanding is that they were about to do it last year before COVID-19 pulled the plug on the end of the season, preventing it from happening. He wouldn’t be eligible for the playoffs if this was to happen but I don’t think that’s a big concern.
Veilleux has been a key player for Laval in his second stint with the team and while he has improved offensively since signing back in 2019, he came up with a fourth-line profile and is someone that should be able to hold his own in that role for a game or two for the Habs if they need to try to give someone some rest while being out of recalls. They’ve had to be creative this season when it comes to cap management and converting Veilleux to an NHL deal to effectively create a fifth recall would just be another example of it and if they were willing to do it last year, they should be willing to do it again.