Rocket de Laval: when the bottom of the class lead the way

The Habs school club may have lost the 5th game of the series against the Springfield Thunderbirds, but the performances of the 197th choice of the 2017 draft session (Primeau) and the 201st of that of 2019 (Harvey-Pinard ) provide an opportunity for the new leaders of the Canadiens to celebrate the flair from the previous direction.

Primeau and Harvey-Pinard were certainly not on the radar of many recruiters when they became hopes of the Montreal organization at the end of a long draft day where they hoped to hear their name spoken on the microphone earlier by an NHL team recruiting manager.

But at least that long-awaited moment has come. And that’s what counts, even though the housekeeping specialists were probably already preparing to clean the place and dismantle the tables.

Being a 7th and final round pick is a commendable feat, even though you’re probably invited to your first training camp to fill a sweater. It is at this point that the old sages of the hockey world see fit to point out that the dress does not make the monk.

Putting on the uniform is a privilege, but it’s what you do when you get in that matters. Harvey-Pinard and Primeau are proving it in Laval.

You had to hear the 10,000 or so spectators at Place Bell come alive with each of the Saguenay forward’s hard-hitting, vigorous checks. However, Harvey-Pinard is very small and the blow seemed hard-hitting. No, it’s no coincidence that he has become one of this crowd’s favorites.

The relentlessness of this brilliant last in class of the 2019 vintage suddenly earned him a lot of attention from his rivals. And the Springfield Thunderbirds players aren’t soft. Harvey-Pinard was also nicely stamped in the band behind his net during an intense moment of overtime on Saturday night.

The audience held their breath. And the favorite got up, obviously a little battered, before turning around again to bother the opponent. Harvey-Pinard previously scored both goals for the Rocket.

That makes him 5 in his last 4 games in a very robust series against a team with strong players who like to try to intimidate Harvey-Pinard and his teammates. And manhandling Cayden Primeau…

He’s going to start to get tired, he’s going to take a day off tomorrow.dropped the head coach of the Rocket Jean-François Houle, commenting on the work of his goalkeeper Cayden Primeau after the loss of his team on Saturday night.

Primeau is at the top of his game during this series. He learns the hard way and that’s exactly what the CH organization wanted. Finally, a school club that stands up, you might say. And which allows the next generation to do their homework in an ideal context.

Laval Rocket goaltender Cayden Primeau makes an eye-closed save against the Springfield Thunderbirds on Wednesday night.

Photo: The Canadian Press/Graham Hughes

Spectators chanted the name of their goaltender on numerous occasions, it sounded like the cheers for Carey at the Bell Centre. It was enough to imagine Cayden in his place…

But the comparison stops there. The No. 31 of the Rocket is building confidence in Laval. And his performances during these series are the ramparts of a solid foundation. Thunderbirds players are constantly on his back after the whistle. Primeau’s teammates have a duty to protect him and they do.

Saturday night, during a power play granted to the Rocket, Alex Belzile rushed like a madman on Dakota Joshua that the Springfield forward allowed himself free contact with the young goalkeeper.

The gesture cost Laval residents their superiority of a player. But Cayden had to feel supported, he, who thanks to his brilliance, maintains the Rocket’s dream of participating in the final despite strong opposition.

Winning in the playoffs, that’s what it’s for. Build the character of your promising players. Instead of being at home wondering how he will ever dislodge Jake Allen or Samuel Montembeault, Primeau has the opportunity to prove he can be successful in the American League. And that he has the confidence of a number one goalkeeper.

Between the two ears and on the ice rink.

In front of the journalists, Primeau remains frozen. He doesn’t get carried away. The others do it for him. And if Jean-François Houle wants him to rest, because the Rocket will have their hands full on Monday in Springfield. And Wednesday perhaps during the 7th and decisive match, if Primeau manages to maintain the rhythm.

Rafaël Harvey-Pinard says he just plays his way, with intensity. As he did in the junior ranks. With the Huskies, then the Saguenéens. He is of course the only player drafted in the 7th round in 2019 to have scored an NHL goal this season. Harvey-Pinard only played 4 games with the big club in the NHL.

His playoff performance is inspiring.

Teammate Devante Smith-Pelly said he’s the Rocket’s best player right now. And that the style of play of the number 11 of the Rocket reminded him of course that of a certain Brendan Gallagher, the number 11 of the CH who according to him, he says while laughing, is a little less skillful that the young Harvey-Pinard…

7th round picks that make scouts look like geniuses are pretty rare. But these days, you don’t have to look very far. The Tampa Bay Lightning has a good one in its ranks. Ondrej Palat, 208th pick in the 2011 draft, is now one of the pillars of the Lightning trying to win a third Stanley Cup in a row.

The emergence of these kinds of players after a stint in the minor leagues contributes greatly to the success of an organization. All you have to do is give yourself the time to develop them in a winning environment.

The Laval Rocket is on the right track in its quest for the Calder Cup.

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