With a very tight battle for playoff positioning in the North Division, Laval had a chance to really strengthen their chances with four divisional games. They did exactly that, winning all four of them to stay in second place.
The Week That Was
Apr. 6: Rocket 6, Americans 2 – It took a while for Laval to get going offensively but they eventually did with four goals in the third period to get the victory. The power play had a rare good game with a pair of goals while Rafael Harvey-Pinard continued his hot streak with a four-point game.
Apr. 8: Rocket 4, Americans 3 – A tough second period for Laval saw Rochester score three goals to take a lead heading into the third. The Rocket were dominant in that frame, however, outshooting the Americans 16-2 and eventually, Sami Niku was able to tie it up with less than two minutes left in regulation. That set the stage for Harvey-Pinard to pot the winner with barely a minute left in overtime.
Apr. 9: Rocket 5, Comets 3 – It was a rough start early on for Cayden Primeau as it was 3-0 for Utica before the first period had reached the midway mark. Fortunately, Laval didn’t give up and actually potted three of their own in the second half of the frame for a rare six-goal period. Jean-Sebastien Dea did all of the scoring in the third, scoring the eventual winner plus the empty-netter to clinch the win.
Apr. 11: Rocket 5, Senators 1 – After an evenly-played first period, Laval took over in the final 40 minutes and scored in several different ways – on the power play, shorthanded, into an empty-net, and, of course, five-on-five. Nicolas Mattinen scored his first career AHL goal in this one which held up as the eventual winner.
Goals: Jean-Sebastien Dea (22)
Assists: Rafael Harvey-Pinard (30)
Points: Rafael Harvey-Pinard (49)
+/-: Rafael Harvey-Pinard (+28)
PIMS: Louie Belpedio (82)
Shots: Danick Martel (158)
News And Notes
– Josh Brook was sent to Trois-Rivieres of the ECHL to him some consistent playing time. As he’s still on his entry-level deal, the Habs didn’t have to get his permission to send him down there.
– Alex Belzile, Tory Dello, and Tobie Paquette-Bisson all returned from their injuries although Belzile missed Monday’s game due to illness. Gabriel Bourque and Cedric Paquette are also dealing with day-to-day injuries.
– With Kevin Poulin sick for Saturday’s game, Tristan Berube signed another PTO and served as the backup. Laval then added Gabriel Mollot-Hill on a PTO to give them a third goalie for their road trip with Cayden Primeau up with Montreal.
Last Game’s Lines:
Harvey-Pinard – Dea – Martel
Vejdemo – Gignac – Abbandonato
Roy – Schnarr – Teasdale
Condotta – Beaudin – Smith-Pelly
Ouellet – Niku
Paquette-Bisson – Belpedio
Dello – Mattinen
The Week Ahead
Apr. 13: at Rochester – Not much has changed between the beginning of last week when these two teams played twice aside from where the game is being played. Rochester has now dropped to the final play-in spot with Belleville right behind them so they’ll be playing with some desperation in this one.
Apr. 14/16: at Cleveland – There are no easy games but this set is the easiest that Laval is going to get the rest of the way. The Monsters sit at the bottom of the North Division and have the lowest points percentage in the Eastern Conference. They’ve allowed the second-most goals in the East (Rochester has allowed the most) as well. With the Rocket struggling on the road (a points percentage of just .433), they need to get some points out of this stretch.
I’d like to sit here and say that Josh Brook’s assignment to Trois-Rivieres to get some playing time is a good thing. Yes, he’s going to play and get into playing shape which is fine but the fact this couldn’t be done in Laval is concerning. It’s not as if he’s stuck behind some quality prospects either – it’s players on PTO contracts that are ahead of him. That’s the part that raises some red flags. If Brook at a little less than 100% can’t displace the likes of Olivier Galipeau, Terrance Amorosa, and Nicolas Mattinen, that’s not good. We’ll see soon enough if this is just a short-term conditioning stint and that he’ll be back closer to the playoffs but the assignment wasn’t termed that way. It sure sounds like he’s just not good enough to crack the lineup right now so the Habs opted to send Brook down to keep him playing. From a prospect standpoint, I can’t spin that as a good thing.
Brook really has a lot to play for now as a so-so showing with the Lions could make management decide to cut bait and use his contract slot on someone else next season. A few months ago, that scenario hardly seemed fathomable but that’s certainly not the case anymore.