Montreal Canadiens AHL Affiliate | Laval Rocket News: Weise’s Debut with Laval, Chaput Trade, Lindgren’s Season, Injuries Accumulate, Accessible to Fans
by Chris G, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine
ROCKET SPORTS MEDIA | LAVAL, QC. — The Rocket collected five of the possible eight points last week. Normally, it would be considered an excellent week but in Laval’s current situation, it’s not good enough as they are 10 points out of a playoff spot. There’s also three teams separating them from a playoff spot. A big challenge for the Rocket.
Laval started off the week with a 4-3 overtime loss against Belleville on Monday, in a controversial game. Lukas Vejdemo scored a goal in the overtime that was disallowed as the officials judged that Karl Alzner caused goalie interference on the play. You read that correctly, Alzner near the opposing goalie while playing 3-on-3 hockey. Anything can happen in the AHL.
On Wednesday, Laval concluded their six game road trip with a 4-2 loss against Syracuse. Lightning’s AHL affiliate is as stacked as their NHL team. Over the weekend, the Rocket swept the Moose in back-to-back games with 3-0 win on Friday and 3-1 win on Saturday.
It is a relatively quiet week for Laval this week as they only have two games this week. The Rocket will face the Monsters in Cleveland on Thursday and Friday night.
My top-5 Rocket takes of the week
Weise’s Debut with Laval
After being assigned to the AHL by the Montreal Canadiens, Dale Weise made his Rocket debut on Wednesday night. In his three games with Laval, he has scored two goals. A pretty good stat line, but this is one of those times that I think the stat line looks better than reality.
“Not very good. I had a tough travel day yesterday to get here, so I definitely felt it on my legs tonight, not a lot of energy,” Weise told the AHL Report in Syracuse following the game against the Crunch.
Weise got a lot of ice time since joining the team. He played on the right side on a line with Daniel Audette and Jake Evans. That line was joined by Alex Belzile on the top power play unit, which went 1-for-8 over the weekend against the Moose.
Weise isn’t the same player that he was in his first tenure with the Canadiens. His heart is definitely at the right place, but his skill set has declined. He was recalled to the Canadiens on Monday, and his contribution to the team’s success needs to be by being a good forechecker and use his energy wisely.
Michael Chaput was traded on Monday to the Arizona Coyotes in return for Jordan Weal. Weal will be joining Montreal, which means that Joel Bouchard lost Weise and Chaput on deadline day. The Rocket has until Monday 3pm Eastern Time to make a trade to improve their roster.
The loss of Chaput will have a negative impact to the Rocket. He had played six games after clearing waivers and being assigned to Laval by the Canadiens. Since his return, he had recorded six points in six games. Bouchard had placed three veterans on the same line as Chaput has been the centre of a line with Alex Belzile and Alexandre Grenier.
In 32 games with the Habs, Chaput accumulated five points in 32 games played. He was used in a fourth line role and on the penalty-kill unit. With the Rocket, he’s tallied 16 points in 24 games. In Laval, he also played on the second power-play unit.
“I’m playing with a good line, two guys I’ve played with before and we have good chemistry. Things are going well but anything I can do to help the team is what I’m trying to do right now,” Chaput said told the AHL Report after Sunday’s game.
The coach has also been satisfied with Chaput’s play since he returned to his team. “He’s played unbelievable this weekend,” Bouchard said on Sunday. “He’s a good guy, I like him a lot.”
With Antti Niemi‘s shaky performances since the start of the season, there was talk of the Canadiens needing to find another backup to help them on their playoff run. Marc Bergevin didn’t make a move for a goalie and reiterated his confidence in Niemi.
One of the options available to Montreal this season if they need help between the pipes is Charlie Lindgren. Lindgren’s statistics don’t necessarily look good on paper. He has a 2.84 goals against average and .887 save percentage. If you haven’t had the opportunity to watch Rocket games this season, I would compare Lindgren’s season to Price’s 2017-18 season.
Lindgren may have come back a little early from a nagging injury. But he is starting to look much more like the goaltender that he was last season on his recall to Montreal.
On Saturday, Lindgren came into the game having allowed at least three goals in each of his last four starts, and in 12 of his last 15 starts. But in my opinion, he stole the game against the Manitoba Moose making several key stops on his way to a 31-save win. It was his best performance since February 1st against the Marlies.
“Unreal game. He kept us in the game, making key save after key save. That’s the Charlie Lindgren that we know,” said Alex Belzile. “He saved us big time. I don’t know if we would have won without him,” added Michael Chaput.
I’m convinced that Lindgren will have more good performances this season and will have an opportunity to play in the NHL at some point in his career.
Injuries Adding Up
It seems like the Rocket’s injury list gets bigger every week. On Saturday, Nikita Jevpalovs was a late scratch with what the team announced as an upper body injury. Jevpalovs’ name gets added to the following list: Gustav Olofsson (shoulder), Noah Juulsen (eye), Michael McCarron (shoulder), Antoine Waked (upper body injury), Hunter Shinkaruk (upper body injury).
Laval’s situation isn’t any different that any other team, but some key players have missed significant time due to injury. When this happens, the team’s depth is tested and their ability to find quality replacements from other AHL teams or from the ECHL becomes critical.
Accessible To Fans
One criticism against the Canadiens over the years has been on how the players aren’t accessible to fans. I don’t think that the fans of the Rocket feel the same.
After every home game, a season ticket holder gets to meet a player and there’s always fans, usually children, that get to visit the dressing room after the game or meet the coach.
The players also participate in several community initiatives in Laval.
Leave your comments below. I am looking forward to interacting with all of you.