Rocket Weekly: The Slide Continues
Laval’s depth continued to be tested last week and while they did get some welcome additions, it wasn’t quite enough for them to put up the points as they managed just a single win over their three games.
The Week That Was
Mar. 8: Belleville 5, Laval 1 – For whatever reason, the Sens have no problems against the Rocket as this was their ninth victory in the season head-to-head. The penalty kill was a big problem in this one for Laval as Belleville’s last four goals came with the man advantage. No matter who the opponent is, that’s quite difficult to overcome. The good news? This was the final game of the season series.
Mar. 10: Laval 2, Syracuse 1 (OT) – Laval was pressed into a spot where they had to dress eight defencemen in this one along with ten forwards. Technically, it was nine and nine as John Parker-Jones, now a forward, came up as a blueliner. That’s a difficult challenge to overcome but to their credit, the Rocket gave the Crunch a strong effort. It looked like Mitchell Stephens’ goal in the first would hold up but Syracuse tied it in the third, setting the stage for Pierrick Dube to pick up the overtime winner.
Mar. 11: Springfield 5, Laval 2 – A three-minute stretch made the score look worse than the game really was. It was all tied at one heading into the third (with Laval’s makeshift fourth line scoring) but the Thunderbirds put up three in the third in a span of 2:22 and that was the difference. Philippe Desrosiers was pulled with 9:45 left in regulation and while the Rocket got one goal, so did Springfield.
News And Notes
– With Laval’s forward depth getting further tested with the recall of Anthony Richard to Montreal, Laval signed forwards Nolan Yaremko and Louis Boudon to tryout deals. Yaremko played this season at Mount Royal while Boudon wrapped up his college career at Lake Superior State.
– Riley McKay received a one-game suspension for starting a secondary fight late in the game against Belleville. On a related note, McKay is now third in the AHL in penalty minutes per game, averaging 7.17 per night.
– Brandon Gignac and Xavier Simoneau both missed the last two games due to undisclosed injuries. Simoneau has since returned to practice. They also welcomed Danick Martel out after the veteran missed more than three months.
Last Game’s Lines:
Condotta – Stephens – Teasdale
Bourque – Abbandonato – Martel
Beaudin – Mysak – Dube
McKay – Yaremko – Parker-Jones
Trudeau – Schueneman
Norlinder – Dello
Galipeau – Bowey
The Week Ahead
Wednesday – vs Rochester – Laval was one point behind Rochester for fourth in the division and the right to host the play-in round but the Amerks have two games in hand. Needless to say, this was pretty much a must-win in regulation for the Rocket. We’ll cover it in next week’s column but let’s just say it didn’t happen.
Friday/Saturday – vs Utica – Technically, the Comets are still within reach as they’re eight points up on Laval, a deficit that could be cut in half with a sweep here. Utica is the stingiest defensive team in the division which doesn’t bode well for a Laval team that is losing scorers like crazy to Montreal with their injury woes. But if you’re looking for some good news, the Rocket are 4-0 in the head-to-head so far.
The AHL trade deadline has come and gone. It was the last opportunity for teams to add a veteran piece to their roster to help cover for injuries, bolster their hopes at a playoff run, or both. Laval certainly would have fallen in the category of needing an addition – particularly up front – for both reasons but instead, they opted to sit on the sidelines, even while other divisional rivals made moves.
While this isn’t particularly surprising given the general nonchalance that has been involved with how Laval’s roster has been managed this season, it’s still disappointing. Players are going down like flies in Montreal and that’s probably not going to change anytime soon. This was the perfect opportunity to add a body or two to hedge against the inevitable recalls. Instead, we saw them dressing multiple defencemen up front in the hopes of icing a full roster. As someone that would like to see Laval have a playoff round or two to help develop their prospects, the fact management has seen fit to do nothing to help make that happen is a bit frustrating.
Full credit to Jean-Francois Houle who has managed to get this team playing competitively almost every night despite a roster that is woefully shorthanded. He’s going to continue to have his work cut out for him now that Laval’s additions will be limited to players on tryouts or whose seasons have ended elsewhere. Those will help but veterans that could play on a regular basis would have helped even more. Yes, the minors are for prospect development but if you want playoff time for those players, you have to get to the playoffs first. This was a missed opportunity to try to help make that happen.