Rocket Weekly: Mission Accomplished – HabsWorld.net
Laval needed a few wins in the final week of the regular season to avoid having to play in the qualifying round to fight for a playoff berth. Mission accomplished on that front as they managed to pick up two wins to earn the third seed in the North Division for their first ever playoff appearance.
The week that was
April 27: Marlies 5. Rocket 4 (OT) – Laval squandered a two-goal lead in the first period and found themselves trailing after 40 minutes before Rafael Harvey-Pinard struck again early in the third for at least s secure an extra point. However, Kevin Poulin’s tough outing continued in overtime when Joey Anderson clinched the winner.
April 28: Rocket 5, Marlies 4 (OT) – The script wasn’t all that different in the rematch. Laval again scored twice in the first period and lost the lead late in the second. After Anderson’s second of the game gave Toronto the lead in the third, Laval managed to get the key tying goal when Brandon Gignac tied it. This time, the Rocket got a power play in overtime and capitalized as Alex Belzile repotted the winner around the same time as the previous night’s winner.
April 30: Rocket 5, Crunch 1 – With Syracuse clinching the second seed in the division, they have seated most of their best players. Laval, having yet to clinch the third seed, played all their regulars. It showed. Poulin was sharp in net, Cedric Paquette scored twice and Corey Schueneman scored his first goal since being fired while the Rocket took care of business.
|4||Tobie Paquette Bisson||3||0||0||-2||1||2|
Goals: Jean-Sebastien Dea (26)
Aids: Raphael Harvey-Pinard (35)
Points: Rafael Harvey-Pinard (56)
+/-: Raphael Harvey-Pinard (+29)
IMP: Louie Belpedio (92)
Strokes: Danick Martel (174)
News and Notes
– Louie Belpedio left Saturday’s game against Syracuse and was taken to hospital as a precaution. However, he was back in training on Wednesday.
– The Rocket recovers Mattias Norlinder after the end of his contract in Sweden. He had a solid showing in the SHL playoffs with six points in nine games and while he may have a limited role in the playoffs (since he’s been gone for so long) it will be good for his development. to keep playing a little longer at least.
– Cam Hillis has quietly returned to the lineup after being out for over a month with an injury. He played once but was knocked out healthy in the last game. He’s likely to be a scratch to start the Syracuse series.
Last game lines:
Harvey-Pinard – Dea – Belzile
Ouellet – Belpédio
Schueneman – Paquette-Bisson
The upcoming series
With the introduction of the qualifying round in the AHL, they reduced the length of the playoffs for the first two rounds to compensate for this. As a result, their game against Syracuse is a best three out of five. The schedule is as follows:
May 6: in Syracuse
May 7: in Syracuse
May 12: downstream
May 14: downstream*
May 17: in Syracuse*
The Rocket have been outweight their weight class for most of the season and head coach Jean-Francois Houle and his staff deserve full marks for getting the most out of this group. But the last two times Laval faced the Crunch in a meaningful road game with both teams dressing their “A” lineups, they were beaten easily. The Rocket, in general, have struggled a lot on the road this season and they’re going to have to have at least one on the road. It’s not a good sign for this game.
Syracuse has the best forwards while Laval has the best defense as long as Belpedio is able to stay healthy. But right now, I don’t trust the Laval goalkeepers. Cayden Primeau is hit and miss and Kevin Poulin is starting to show cracks after a season I don’t think anyone expected. It’s been months and neither has established themselves as a true starter. It’s never a good thing before the playoffs and it’s not a good sign either.
Laval can win this series if they manage to get balanced points. At present, only the Jean-Sebastien Dea line has scored consistently, although Nate Schnarr’s trio have improved lately while being the control group. Can Cédric Paquette launch a third line? (Can Paquette stay healthy for more than a week is a subplot for this question.) If they can score three lines, they’ll have a chance. But it is not very often that they have been able to do this. They’ll need it if they’re going to earn their first-ever playoff victory.