Laval wrapped up their latest homestand last week and despite the fact they’re still missing several key players, they were able to pick up five of six points to hold onto second place in the North Division.
The Week That Was
Mar. 23: Senators 2, Rocket 1 (SO) – While the score would imply this was a defensive battle, it really wasn’t. Cayden Primeau had his ‘A’ game and managed to hold Belleville at bay through 65 minutes before being beaten twice in as many shots in the shootout. Cedric Paquette had the lone goal for Laval.
Mar. 25: Rocket 5, Phantoms 1 – The last time these teams played each other, Lehigh Valley pulled off a multi-goal comeback to get the victory. That didn’t happen this time around as Laval took the lead on a J-S Dea goal in the opening minute of the second and never looked back with Kevin Poulin shutting the door after that. Paquette added two more goals as he continues to impress following his demotion from the Habs.
Mar. 26: Rocket 5, Penguins 3 – It wasn’t Louis Domingue’s best performance between the pipes for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton which was great for Laval. Paquette scored again while newcomer Nate Schnarr picked up the game-winner with less than five minutes left in regulation.
Shootout – Skaters:
Shootout – Goalies:
Goals: Jean-Sebastien Dea (18)
Assists: Harvey-Pinard/Ouellet (21)
Points: Rafael Harvey-Pinard (38)
+/-: Rafael Harvey-Pinard (+22)
PIMS: Louie Belpedio (73)
Shots: Danick Martel (129)
News And Notes
– Sami Niku left the team for the birth of his child. The fact that Dominic Cormier was released on Sunday and that Laval’s next two games are in Manitoba meant that Niku was able to return for that set.
– Alex Belzile is roughly a week away from returning. Cam Hillis and Tory Dello are a little further away from coming back.
– Laval sent Alexandre Fortin down to ECHL Trois-Rivieres while Cedric Desruisseaux was loaned out to Wheeling of ECHL after being with the Lions.
Last Game’s Lines:
(As of the W-B/Scranton game, Manitoba’s will be covered next week.)
Harvey-Pinard – Paquette – Dea
Roy – Schnarr – Ylonen
Martel – Gignac – Teasdale
Ducharme – Beaudin – Bourque
Ouellet – Mattinen
Amorosa – Belpedio
Kielb – Galipeau
The Week Ahead
Mar. 29/30: at Manitoba – The Moose are a team that’s built similar to Laval in that they don’t really have a high-scoring top line; their leading scorer actually has fewer points than Harvey-Pinard. However, they’re one of the stingier defensive teams in the league while Mikhail Berdin has been one of the more impressive goalies this season. Kristian Vesalainen was sent down by Winnipeg recently, giving them another notable player up front although his production has been limited so far.
Apr. 2/3: at Abbotsford – The Canucks have been even better defensively this season, allowing 20 fewer goals than Laval through 55 games each. Sheldon Dries continues to hover around the top five in league scoring while former Hab Noah Juulsen is finally getting an opportunity to play regular minutes after clearing waivers at the beginning of the year.
While the Habs have brought up Jesse Ylonen with their emergency recall, I have to think that Rafael Harvey-Pinard is making a strong case to be the next one to get that opportunity. Over the past month and a bit, he’s starting to produce with the type of consistency he had back in junior which helped to turn around a slower start to the season. On top of that, his style of play is a good fit for the energy that Martin St. Louis wants to see from his fourth line. Of course, therein lies the dilemma of whether or not to put a prospect in that role but if it’s for a short stint, I don’t think it’d hurt. Harvey-Pinard didn’t look out of place in his first stint with the Habs earlier in the year and from an evaluation standpoint, it’d be nice to see him get a few games over the final stretch to assess the progress he has made. Besides, he has earned another chance and in a season like this, it’d be nice to reward Harvey-Pinard for his recent efforts.