Montreal Canadiens 2016 fourth-round pick Victor Mete will be making his AHL debut with the Laval Rocket as they take on the Leigh Valley Phantoms.
The Laval Rocket will have another player making a debut with the team thanks to the Montreal Canadiens. 2016 fourth-round pick Victor Mete was recently assigned to the minors and is set to be one of the more interesting storylines ahead of tonight’s game against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Mete played in 23 games for the Habs this season but had been relegated to duties on the bottom pair ahead of the send-off. The 20-year-old hasn’t developed the way management thought he would and, as Claude Julien mentioned after Thursday’s practice, this is a move to further his growth as a player. There’s a stronger chance of Mete playing top minutes on the blueline in Laval, and the Montreal Canadiens made the decision accordingly.
Now looking ahead to the game. Laval is coming off a 2-1 victory over the Belleville Senators that saw their five-game losing streak come to an end. Karl Alzner got the scoring started for the Rocket capitalizing on a rebound off a Michael McCarron shot while Daniel Audette found Byron Froese from behind the net for the eventual game-winner.
The lineup hasn’t been announced yet, but you have to think Joel Bouchard gives Mete a shot in the top four most likely bumping out Ryan Culkin in the process. Culkin was recently brought up from the Main Mariners putting up 2 goals and 7 assists in 14 games. The win against the Senators was his second game with the Rocket.
Lehigh Valley and Laval are in similar but different boats in the league. The Phantoms are out of a playoff spot sitting fifth in the Atlantic Division with 22 points while the Rocket are well out of a playoff spot as they’re last in the North with 18. It’s been a while between games for Lehigh Valley, but that 6-3 deficit at the hands of the Providence Bruins may still be fresh in their minds.
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There’s a good chance of there being a good deal of emotion behind this match-up and the Laval Rocket must be ready for it.
Alex Belzile continues to lead the team in scoring with 2 goals and 14 assists followed by rookie Jake Evans (14 points) and captain Froese (12). The Phantoms have the duo of Phil Varone and Greg Carey leading the charge who are at the top for overall points and goals respectively. Containing that top line will be key, but it’ll also come down to watching out from the offence of T.J. Brennan.
Brennan has been a point-producing machine on defence in the minors for years no matter what team he’s on. The defenceman is currently third on the Phantoms in scoring with 6 goals and 15 assists with no signs of a cooling period.
As much as it’ll come to proper defence, and hopefully Mete plays a role in that, getting effective goaltending will be the difference maker. Charlie Lindgren and Michel McNiven had their burps and hiccups over the course of the season and it’s tough to solely blame it on their performance. That said, Lindgren is still holding on to his reign as the guy.
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Tonight’s game is the last of November and a rocky one for Laval. It started with a 3-1 loss to the Utica Comets and perhaps they can finish it with a victory over a relatively inconsistent Lehigh Valley team. But then again, the Laval Rocket had their chapters on inconsistencies as well.