The Laval Rocket are making their first trip to Belleville for a game on Wednesday night against the Senators, before heading over the border for games against the Syracuse Crunch on Friday and Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Saturday.
The Rocket are currently on a five-game losing streak and will look to get back on track as they have fallen to third place in the North Division. A Belleville win draws them even with the Rocket at 22 points apiece, but a Rocket win will get them to within one point of the second place Rochester Americans. At the end of the day teams are ranked based on their points percentage, but points within the division are essentially equivalent. The top four teams in the division qualify for the playoffs.
Full Roster making the trip
The Rocket travelled to Belleville with a 25-man squad, including three goaltenders, eight defencemen, and 14 forwards. Even though Charlie Lindgren, Noah Juulsen, and Markus Eisenschmid are back in action for the Rocket, the team opted to keep Michael McNiven, Willie Corrin, and Thomas Ebbing in their midst. In fact there isn’t a single Habs prospect currently assigned to the ECHL’s Brampton Beast. The Rocket were forced to recall Yannick Veilleux, Jordan Boucher, Ebbing, and McNiven due to a rash of injuries in the organization.
If you also take into account the departures of Mark Streit, Martin Reway, and Torrey Mitchell, it’s easy to see that the organizational depth has been seriously impacted.
Juulsen and Eisenschmid return
Les paires en défensive chez le @RocketLaval :— Anthony Marcotte (@anthonymarcotte) November 29, 2017
Ça sent le retour confirmé pour Noah Juulsen.
Montreal Canadiens first-round pick Noah Juulsen has been cleared from his broken foot that he suffered in the NHL pre-season and should be making his AHL regular season debut against Belleville.
Also slowly returning from injury is Markus Eisenschmid, the face-off and penalty kill specialist who has only played five games this season, and has generally dealt with a rash of severe injuries in his three seasons as part of Montreal’s AHL teams. Although he won’t be in the line-up against Belleville as he still rounds into form.
Gélinas to play at the Spengler Cup?
With Byron Froese, Nicolas Deslauriers, and Jakub Jerabek currently playing with the Montreal Canadiens, the Rocket have not had to deal with the veteran player overage situation all month, probably to the great relief of Eric Gélinas.
Speaking of which, rumour has it Gélinas will be heading to Davos, Switzerland to play for Team Canada along with fellow Habs prospect Jake Evans. Gélinas is on an AHL contract which means he would be eligible for the Olympics.
Bourque is a concern
Despite the stretched organizational depth, rookie defenceman Simon Bourque has found himself more often than not a healthy scratch this month. In fact he’s only played in two out of the 11 games in November.
With Noah Juulsen returning to action it’s going to be even harder for Bourque to get any playing time with the Rocket. Perhaps the team feels that being around the team is best for his development, but you would have to imagine that game time offers precious development not found at practice. The options facing the Canadiens right now include sending him to the ECHL Beast or another team in the league, loan him to another AHL team for the season, or simply return him to the QMJHL Saint John Ice Dogs, where he is still eligible to play as an overage player.
Know Thy Enemy: Belleville Senators
The Senators’ record is pretty remarkable given the extensive roster movement all season long between players being called up by Ottawa and other players getting sent down to the Beast to get some games.
Ottawa and Montreal are currently sharing the same ECHL team. Whereas Montreal has the official affiliation with the Beast, it’s the Senators who have been using the avenue far more, sending several prospects to Brampton to play a game or two before being called back up to Belleville.
More importantly for Laval, it looks like top defenceman Thomas Chabot will be up with Ottawa in the NHL. The Rocket will still need to content with red-hot Gabriel Gagne who is second in the AHL in game-winning goals.
In goal the Senators will probably have Andrew Hammond who is back from a quick call-up to the Colorado Avalanche. Also, former Ottawa Senators forward Chris Kelly is back in the Sens organization, signing a PTO last week to play in the AHL in Belleville.
Schedule and where to watch/listen
- Wednesday, November 29 @ Belleville Senators, 7:00pm
- Friday, December 1 @ Syracuse Crunch, 7:00pm
- Saturday, December 2 @ Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 7:00pm
Every game is streamed on the AHL Live service and broadcast on 91.9 Sports.