Generating scoring chances wasn’t a problem for Laval last week. However, capitalizing on enough of them to win was indeed a problem as the Rocket managed only a pair of overtime losses, ending their season-long home stand on a losing note.
The Week That Was
Nov. 2: Toronto 7, Laval 4 – This didn’t start out as a barnburner but it ended up as one soon enough as six goals were scored in an 11-minute span in the second period with four of them coming from the Marlies. Cayden Primeau had a tough night at the office allowing five goals on 29 shots (Laval had 33) while on a positive note, Anthony Richard extended his goal streak to five games.
Nov. 4: Toronto 5, Laval 4 (OT) – Things weren’t much better for Primeau in this one but to Laval’s credit, they worked hard for the point they got. Down 4-2 with just over three minutes left, the Rocket were able to force overtime thanks to goals from Rafael Harvey-Pinard and Xavier Simoneau. However, a tripping call to Justin Barron early in overtime proved costly as former Hab Logan Shaw buried the winner, his third goal of the game.
Nov. 5: Lehigh Valley 3, Laval 2 (OT) – Another game with lots of scoring chances but not a lot to show for it. It took a third-period goal from Richard to get the game to overtime although Laval had a late power play that they weren’t able to capitalize on. Then, in the extra frame, Nicolas Beaudin took a tripping penalty with the Phantoms potting the winner just 14 seconds later to get the extra point.
Goals: Anthony Richard (6)
Assists: Brandon Gignac (6)
Points: Anthony Richard (10)
+/-: Tory Dello (+5)
PIMS: Mitchell Stephens (17)
Shots: Harvey-Pinard (39)
News And Notes
– Alex Belzile missed all three games with a lower-body injury although he was able to practice with the team. The same can’t be said for centre Nate Schnarr (upper body) and defenceman William Trudeau (upper body) who are both listed as out indefinitely.
– Forward Pierrick Dube’s tryout was a successful one as he inked a one-year, two-way deal with Laval and was subsequently assigned to ECHL Trois-Rivieres.
– After being a healthy scratch for the first two and a half weeks of the season, winger Brennan Saulnier was also sent down to the Lions.
Last Game’s Lines:
Harvey-Pinard – Gignac – Ylonen
Richard – Simoneau – Teasdale
Condotta – Abbandonato – Bourque
Martel – Mysak – Stephens
Schueneman – Barron
Norlinder – Bowey
Beaudin – Dello
The Week Ahead
Friday – at Utica – The Comets have played the fewest games of anyone in the Eastern Conference this season so they’re certainly well-rested. They recently got Andreas Johnsson back from New Jersey, giving them some extra firepower up front although his addition comes at the cost of Akira Schmid who has been the stronger goalie of their platoon early on. Utica has Simon Nemec on their back end who was the second-overall pick this past summer after Juraj Slafkovsky as the Devils ease him into playing in North America.
Saturday – at Lehigh Valley – There isn’t much new to write about the Phantoms as they haven’t played since their game against Laval last weekend. Cam York was able to return to their lineup and played a key role against the Rocket (he scored the winner) while Tyson Foerster, who played for Canada at the World Juniors in the summer, is now their leading scorer.
Sunday – at Hershey – The Bears have been one of the stingier teams defensively so far this season with Zach Fucale (2.03 GAA, .914 SV%) off to a nice start to his campaign. Hendrix Lapierre is in his first professional season (which has been great for Hab prospect Riley Kidney) and is doing well early on; he’s tied for second on the Bears in points. Laval catches them without Sonny Milano who was recently recalled to Washington and while the Rocket will be in a stretch of three in three nights, so will Hershey.
Heading into this season, there were a lot of questions surrounding the Rocket. But the one element that really wasn’t in question, goaltending, has been the biggest question mark early on.
There have been nights where Cayden Primeau has been quite sharp and others where he was anything but. Kevin Poulin’s start against Lehigh Valley last weekend was pretty much his only good one of the season after wrestling away the starting job for a time a year ago. When these goalies are on, they can mask a lot of deficiencies; look no further than their improbable playoff run last spring which was basically Primeau carrying the team. But when they’re not on, this team isn’t good enough to overcome those struggles on a regular basis and the end result is Laval sitting dead last in the conference.
The good news is that both goalies have shown that they’re capable of getting hot for extended stretches which would go a lot way towards dragging the Rocket back to the .500 mark which would help them avoid falling too far out of things early on. However, one of them needs to take the bull by the horns and run with it. From a development standpoint, it’d be nice if Primeau is the one to do so as this is basically a make-or-break year for him. Nothing like some early pressure on his shoulders. Management will certainly be interested to see how he responds.