It’s already the end of the first weekend of the Laval Rocket’s season, and head coach Joël Bouchard is not a happy camper.
“I think when the guys come here and they play, and you realize the state they’re in, in that moment you realize that half the team doesn’t have their heads in it. It’s obvious,” Bouchard said.
The Laval Rocket (0-2-0-0) lost 4-1 to the Cleveland Monsters (2-0-0-0) Saturday afternoon at Place Bell. Laval found themselves down 2-0 after 40 minutes of play thanks to goals from Eric Robinson and Zac Dalpe. Despite an Alex Belzile goal putting them within one, the Monsters buried their opponent with two empty-net goals in the final minutes of the third.
It’s the team’s second straight loss to Cleveland following Friday’s 3-2 defeat; a game in which they blew two leads.
“I think [the players] realized it. They got outworked in many moments during both games,” Bouchard said post-game. “I’m keeping calm, but we’re going to bring this back on track.
“Monday, the players better have on their hard hats. It’s going to take one week, two weeks, three weeks that we’re going to have them and make them play the right way.”
The team will have Sunday off before practising Monday through Thursday. The team then travels Friday to Milwaukee where they will face off against the Admirals on Saturday.
“I’ll take the time it will take.”
Cayden Primeau’s debut
Laval Rocket goaltender Cayden Primeau made his official professional hockey debut Saturday afternoon, making 29 saves, albeit in a losing effort.
“I felt pretty good,” Primeau said afterward. “It was good to get a game last week and see the pace. It was the same kind of pace [today]. I really worked all week on trying to catch up to that pace.”
“Everyone was obviously definitely trying to help me out because it was my first start,” he continued. “Thankful for that.”
The first goal Primeau allowed in Saturday’s contest may not have been all his fault. The Monsters took advantage of two Rocket defencemen overplaying forward Justin Scott, leaving goal-scorer Eric Robinson all alone in the slot.
The second goal allowed by Primeau was a blast from Zac Dalpe while his team had the man advantage, letting a shot go from the top of the faceoff circle. Those were all the goals he allowed Saturday, as Cleveland’s next two were into the empty net.
“As things went on, I guess, we just let the emotions get the best of us,” Primeau said. “It’s a lot that we can learn from. It’s going to be a good week [next week] of getting better.”
Karl Alzner’s analysis
About that first goal of the game:
What was Alzner thinking ? pic.twitter.com/TGmPrs8ijs— Yannick St-Pierre (@DraftDynasty1) October 5, 2019
If you’re wondering, Alzner was the defenceman who found himself chasing Scott in the corner of the ice, only for Scott to then find a wide-open Robinson for the game’s opening goal.
“[It was a] four-on-four,” Alzner said. “I think like every team we kind of play man-on-man. Just out of a battle, one guy beats one guy out of the corner. I could hear [Robinson] call for it right away. As a d-man, your first instinct is to take the ice away,” he said. “They usually just slide it. But then [Scott] took an extra second to put a little sauce. That’s usually what they do in the pros. So, it was a good play by him. And the guy buries it.”
Some, like the tweeter above, chalked it up as another strike against the pricey, 31-year-old defenceman who wishes to return to the National Hockey League. But hearing Alzner speak about the play, you get the sense that he may have been in his right position, but the Monsters still found a way to score.
“We had all the guys in the corner there and we were talking to get this guy,” he said. “When the puck comes down low, we’re supposed to pressure right away. I’ll have to watch it again and make adjustments, I’m sure, but we’re a no time, no space kind of team. Good plays beat it sometimes.”
Good weekend for Hudon-Belzile-Evans line
The top line of Charles Hudon, Alex Belzile, and Jake Evans was undoubtedly the most productive line for Laval through their first two games. Belzile scored two of his team’s three goals, while Hudon, whom everyone should apparently stop feeling sorry for, scored Friday night. Evans assisted on Belzile’s Friday-night goal. Both Hudon and Belzile ended Saturday’s game with five shots on net.
While Evans and Belzile may be counted on more for their American Hockey League production, the spotlight has shone a little more on Hudon as he tries to return to the Montreal Canadiens’ lineup.
“I think Charles picked it up this weekend,” Bouchard said. “That was a good line tonight. I felt there’s an improvement from [Friday], which is good for him. But he’s got some work to do. We’ve got to go back to work on Monday with him.”
“Charles works hard,” Evans said. “Very strong, very skilled player. It’s nice to play with him.”
“He’s a guy with a lot of talent,” Belzile said of the former Canadien. “He’s a guy who wants the puck. When he’s open, we give it to him.”