It was a light week for Laval as they only had a pair of road games on the schedule with their lone victory coming against Toronto in what was a thrilling comeback as they hang around the playoff mix in the North Division.
The Week That Was
Nov. 17: Rocket 6, Marlies 5 (SO) – After a penalty-filled affair in their first matchup of the season, this was pegged as one to keep an eye on to see if those fireworks continued. Those ones didn’t but the game certainly had its fireworks. Toronto had a 5-1 lead late in the second period, chasing Michael McNiven from the crease in the process. However, Laval chipped away, getting one back before the end of the period before adding a shorthanded and power play marker in the first half of the third. That set the stage for Cole Caufield to pick up the game-tying goal, sending it to overtime. After no one scored there, the shootout went nine rounds before Rafael Harvey-Pinard was able to pot the winner.
Nov. 20: Senators 5, Rocket 2 – Belleville was able to get several players back from Ottawa for this one as the Sens were mostly cleared from COVID protocol so this was a much better lineup than the one Laval faced in their previous outing earlier this month. Special teams proved to be the difference; after the two teams split goals in the first, Belleville scored on both of their power plays while the Rocket could only get one on their three opportunities, including a carryover two-man advantage. The Senators added two empty-netters to make the game seem more lopsided than it was.
Shootout – Skaters:
Shootout – Goalies:
Goals: Laurent Dauphin (9)
Assists: Xavier Ouellet (8)
Points: Laurent Dauphin (13)
+/-: Michael Pezzetta (+7)
PIMS: Louis Belpedio (38)
Shots: Xavier Ouellet (52)
News And Notes
– The win over Toronto came at a price as both Gianni Fairbrother and Danick Martel left with injuries and neither was able to suit up against Belleville. Terrance Amorosa was recalled from Trois-Rivieres of the ECHL to give Laval a bit more defensive depth.
– Cayden Primeau was sent back to Laval on Sunday. Kevin Poulin hasn’t been sent back to the Lions yet; they’ll likely wait for confirmation that Jake Allen is able to dress on Wednesday before making that move.
– In the four games since he recorded a shutout, Michael McNiven has allowed 18 goals while posting a save percentage of just .825. He is able to block an assignment to Trois-Rivieres if he wants to (in case you might have been thinking they should keep Poulin up).
Last Game’s Lines:
Roy – Dauphin – Belzile
Harvey-Pinard – Dea – Ylonen
Bourque – Vejdemo – Fortin
Baddock – Gignac – Hillis
Ouellet – Belpedio
Schueneman – Dello
Paquette-Bisson – Neill
The Week Ahead
Nov. 26/27: vs Belleville (one home, one away) – Laval won’t have to wait long to try to get their revenge from Saturday’s loss since their next two games are against the Sens (Belleville has one other game before this set). Ottawa recently converted Zac Leslie’s AHL deal to an NHL contract and he responded with his first goal of the season against the Rocket over the weekend. Lassi Thomson is one player that Ottawa hasn’t sent back yet which is a big loss for their back end.
It has been a mediocre season so far for Laval and that same descriptor could be applied to Lukas Vejdemo’s start. This is a player that’s a bit old for the AHL in terms of still being an NHL prospect (he turns 26 in January) so this is a big year for him. Can he play his way into the mix with the Habs or is he someone that’s destined to return to the SHL?
Up until this past week, the production simply wasn’t there although, to his credit, he scored against both Toronto and Belleville to bring his numbers back to a similar level to last season from a per-game perspective. I know offence isn’t his game and that his calling card in the NHL will be his defence but it’s not his defence that’s going to get him there. If it was, he’d have been recalled already.
Of course, the challenge for Vejdemo is that he has exclusively been deployed in a checking role which wasn’t always the case last season so the chances for more production are going to be a bit harder to come by. One subplot to watch for over the coming weeks and months, especially if Montreal sells some players closer to the trade deadline, is whether he can produce enough to get himself back into the recall mix. If he can’t, there’s a good chance this will be his final season with the organization.