Laval had a pair of divisional games last week including one against a team they’re battling with for playoff seeding. However, the Rocket struggled in both games and weren’t able to come away with any points as they lost some ground in the battle to avoid the play-in round.
The Week That Was
Feb. 24: Rochester 8, Laval 4 – Good goaltending has played an important part in Laval dragging themselves out of the basement and back into the playoff picture. They didn’t get that in this one as both Cayden Primeau and Kevin Poulin struggled considerably. On the plus side, Brandon Gignac had a three-point effort while Joel Teasdale’s sudden scoring surge continued.
Feb. 25: Toronto 3, Laval 2 – Primeau was much better in this one and frankly, he was the only reason it was close as the Marlies dominated from start to finish. Mitchell Stephens tied things up with just under eight minutes to go and it looked like the Rocket might steal a point but it was not to be as Max Ellis potted the winner with five minutes left. Notably, Nate Schnarr missed on a penalty shot midway through the first period that could have changed the complexion of the game; William Trudeau had the other goal for Laval.
Goals: Anthony Richard (23)
Assists: Abbandonato/Richard (28)
Points: Anthony Richard (51)
+/-: Corey Schueneman (+10)
PIMS: William Trudeau (49)
Shots: Anthony Richard (148)
News And Notes
– This is going to sound crazy but there were no new additions to the infirmary for Laval. Following their games, they also got Corey Schueneman back from Laval so they will actually have an extra defenceman available.
– Brandon Gignac has quietly been productive since returning to the lineup late last month. In the 12 games since then, he has six goals and five assists.
– On the flip side, Nicolas Beaudin’s production has tapered off since he came back as he has just a single assist in seven games. Granted, he was a seventh defender in some of those but it’s still a big drop from the production he had back in December.
Last Game’s Lines:
Richard – Abbandonato – Teasdale
Condotta – Stephens – Schnarr
Bourque – Gignac – Dube
McKay – Mysak – Simoneau
Trudeau – Dello
Norlinder – Bowey
Beaudin – Galipeau
The Week Ahead
Wednesday/Friday – vs Rochester – After a tough outing against them on the road, Laval will get a shot at revenge fairly quickly. They’re now five points behind the Amerks for the fourth seed in the division, the one that would see them host the play-in series. Needless to say, it would be ideal if they could find a way to get both of these games.
Saturday vs Rockford – It’s a rare out-of-conference matchup for Laval in this one as they host Chicago’s farm team, one that could look considerably different than it is now depending on what other moves are made between now and the trade deadline. The IceHogs are currently without their leading scorer (David Gust) due to recall and next on the list is Lukas Reichel, someone who probably should be up with the Blackhawks. Former Hab Cam Hillis is currently up with the team and made his first two AHL appearances of the season last week.
So, what might the upcoming trade deadline look like for Laval? Like Montreal, I’m not expecting a lot of activity overall. The best hope for the Rocket to add might be the Habs picking up depth players to round out the roster which could push a player or two back down to the minors. Basically, do what they did with Chris Tierney.
But with contract slots fairly limited (three remaining with two earmarked for Sean Farrell and Jayden Struble if they sign; they’d be ineligible to play in Laval in this scenario), I wonder if Montreal now might go out and trade for someone like that. The return would have to be fairly limited and would basically just be someone to match the number of the contracts on the books. We’ve seen that at play with several trades already throughout the league.
Who might those contract matchers be? Otto Leskinen could be one. He should be eligible for Group Six unrestricted free agency this summer and he’s out for the season. As long as the acquiring team doesn’t really care about the player they’re getting back – they might want a veteran NHL player off their books for cap reasons – he’s a logical choice. If the other teams wants someone who can actually play, then it gets a bit trickier. Who won’t the Habs qualify? I think Nate Schnarr is in that boat so he’s an option. He might be the only one likely to be in that situation at this point which is why I don’t expect a ton of activity for Laval in the coming days.
There are a couple other ways that Laval can add to their roster. One is acquiring a player on loan before the Clear Day deadline. The Habs/Rocket have loaned several players out in recent years but rarely do they bring one in. This would be a good time for that. Alternatively, as CHL players see their seasons come to an end, they can join Laval, as could Emil Heineman down the stretch. There’s some cause for optimism that help could be on the horizon six weeks from now but that might be about as long as they have to wait to get multiple extra bodies in the mix.