The Laval Rocket return home for their final home game of October, facing the Rochester Americans at Place Bell on Wednesday.
The Rocket are coming off of their first road trip, picking up three out of a possible six points, playing a difficult schedule of three games in three nights. The trip was seen as a success by head coach Sylvain Lefebvre in terms of picking up points, but said that he did not appreciate how the team responded to adversity in the final game.
The Canadiens made a trade with the Buffalo Sabres earlier this season, swapping players at the AHL level, trading defenceman Zach Redmond for forward Nicolas Deslauriers. Redmond is currently in the NHL playing for the Sabres, however Deslauriers should face his old team.
One of keys to success for the Rocket will be to tighten up defensively and play a more disciplined game. They cannot afford to continue taking penalties while their penalty kill operates at a 75% efficiency, among the worst in the league. It would be a shame to boost Rochester’s 10% power play efficiency that ranks among the worst in the AHL as well.
An ongoing flare-up of an injury sustained during the preseason will keep Jeremy Grégoire out of the Rocket line-up on Wednesday, missing a fourth consecutive game. The good news is that he’s back on the ice at practice, so a return may not be too far away.
Jeremy Gregoire est de retour à l’entraînement du Rocket ce matin. / Gregoire back at practice this morning for the Rocket.— Anthony Marcotte (@anthonymarcotte) October 25, 2017
Markus Eisenschmid will likely miss his third game in a row, having not yet returned to the ice after sustaining a lower-body injury during the first game of the road trip after a huge hit, a common source of injuries in the third-year pro.
The loss of these two players was a big loss for the Rocket penalty kill, as they both have developed into dependable players in that role.
Rookie defenceman Noah Juulsen remains a few weeks away from returning to action after breaking his foot in a Canadiens preseason game.
The Rocket continues to have an extra veteran player on its roster. For Wednesday night’s game it’s Jakub Jerabek’s turn to skip a game due to the AHL veteran rule. It’s only the second time he’s had to skip a game thus far this season. Here is the tally thus far:
- Eric Gélinas: 3
- Nicolas Deslauriers: 2
- Jakub Jerabek: 2
- Peter Holland: 1
- Matt Taormina: 0
- Chris Terry: 0
Note: Gélinas skipped an extra game because of David Schlemko’s conditioning game.
Formation du @RocketLaval en attaque ce soir:— Anthony Marcotte (@anthonymarcotte) October 25, 2017
With McCarron and Scherbak called up, the Rocket’s top line is made up of AHL veterans Chris Terry, Peter Holland, and Byron Froese. Holland slots back into centre, in a season-long game of musical chairs with Froese over who plays in the middle and who plays on the wing.
Daniel Audette is said to be playing his best professional hockey thus far, but it was the unexpected emergence of Kyle Baun during the road trip that really raised eyebrows. He has emerged ahead of Antoine Waked in the pecking order on right wing.
Nikita Scherbak and Michael McCarron remain with the Montreal Canadiens for the time being, so rookie Jordan Boucher and Yannick Veilleux were called in as reinforcements from the Brampton Beast.
On defence the following pairings should be expected:
- Matt Taormina - Brett Lernout
- Eric Gélinas - Stefan Leblanc
- Tom Parisi - Simon Bourque
Zachary Fucale gets the start for the Rocket, as he had a solid showing in Bridgeport, while Charlie Lindgren has had a rough start to the year.
Know Thy Enemy
The Rochester Americans (“Amerks”) are the second oldest team in the American Hockey League, joining the League in 1956.
The Amerks are the farm team for the Buffalo Sabres, which leads to the expectation that there would be plenty of high calibre prospects given Buffalo’s privileged drafting position over the years. It is surprising therefore to realize that they sit at the bottom of the North Division, having won only two games out of five so far.
Alex Nylander, the eight overall pick in the 2016 NHL entry draft, has still not suited up for the Amerks due to a lower-body injury that is being evaluated week-to-week, which is sure to have a large impact.
Besides Nylander, there are only five players drafted by the Sabres, currently on the team. Linus Ullmark, leading this group, has played well for the Amerks in four starts, with a goals against average of 2.79 and a save percentage of .909, which in itself should have been enough to win more than a single game in those four starts. A lack of scoring, nine goals in five games, has stunted any accumulation of points for the team. The majority of drafted players graduate quickly to the Sabres, spending little time with the Amerks.
C.J. Smith leads the team in scoring with four points in five games, while Steve Moses, a recent returnee from the KHL has three points.
How To Watch/Listen
The game will be shown on AHL Live, starting at 7:30 PM EDT on Wednesday.
You can also listen to the games on the radio 91.9FM in French.