There was plenty of enthusiasm as a young Laval squad kicked off its 2023-24 campaign with a pair of games against Abbotsford. However, some struggles in their own end resulted in a pair of losses on home ice.
The Week That Was
Oct. 13: Canucks 7, Rocket 4 – The second period was the one to forget in this one. After being tied at two apiece after 20 minutes, Laval fell apart a bit at the defensive end in the back half of the second, resulting in three quick goals against and ending Jakub Dobes’ AHL debut prematurely. They got within two a couple of times in the third including when Joel Armia scored his second of the night but that’s as close as they got.
Oct. 14: Canucks 4, Rocket 3 – The start was the problem this time as Abbotsford was up by a pair after 20 minutes but this time, Laval bounced back in the second with a pair of goals. The Canucks got the lead back in the third but Lias Andersson’s second goal of the game tied it with just 2:40 left. The draw was short-lived, however, as Tristan Nielsen put the Rocket down once more just 13 seconds later. Philippe Maillet looked like he tied it up on the power play but the buzzer sounded just before the puck crossed the line.
Goals: Andersson/Armia/Roy (2)
Assists: Beaudin/Roy (2)
Points: Joshua Roy (4)
+/-: Lucas Condotta (+1)
PIMS: Logan Mailloux (5)
Shots: Joshua Roy (12)
News and Notes
– Joel Armia’s goal in the opener was his first at the AHL level since November 13, 2015. The other way of looking at that stat? He snapped a five-game goalless drought with his tally.
– Laval didn’t escape the weekend unscathed on the injury front as Emil Heineman was injured in Saturday’s loss. He’s listed as out indefinitely with an upper-body injury that some believe is a concussion.
– Gabriel Bourque was named team captain with Mitchell Stephens, Lucas Condotta, and Tobie Paquette-Bisson serving as the alternates. Unfortunately for Bourque, he too, is now injured.
Last Game’s Lines:
Heineman – Stephens – Roy
Farrell – Gignac – Armia
Davidson – Maillet – Andersson
Bourque – Mysak – Legare
Beaudin – Lindstrom
Struble – Mailloux
Norlinder – Bisson
The Week Ahead
Wednesday/Friday: vs Rochester – The Amerks are a bit like Laval this season in that they have quite a few youngsters in prominent roles. Their top three scorers are all recent first-round picks while they also feature former Hab Kale Clague on the back end. Brandon Biro and Lukas Rousek averaged at least a point per game against the Rocket last season and both remains with Rochester. The first game of this set featured quite a surprise.
Saturday: at Belleville – Like Rochester, the Sens split their opening two games, a pair of relatively low-scoring affairs. Four of their top five scorers against Laval last season are all back in the lineup while they feature an intriguing first-year player in Jiri Smejkal who had interest from a few teams in free agency this summer.
At the moment, Laval is carrying a 29-man roster, a number that is untenable over the long haul. However, this isn’t anything new either for them or throughout the league as quite a few other teams are in this situation.
The unfortunate reality is that this ‘problem’ usually resolves itself before too long. A couple of players get hurt, a couple more get recalled, and all of a sudden, it’s close to a normal roster. Send a player or two down to Trois-Rivieres to get them some more playing time and now it’s a normal-sized roster.
In the past, management (not just this group, Marc Bergevin’s as well) has opted to let players go to other teams for free to help clear the logjam. Last year, it was a serviceable defenceman in Alex Green and a decent forward in Brennan Saulnier. A couple years before that, it was Jake Lucchini who went on to be a thorn in Laval’s side while even seeing NHL action.
That route might be the short-term solution but it’s one that simply doesn’t work out in the long haul. Last year, they gave two players away and before long, they were turning to tryouts when they could have kept what they had and been better off for it. As fans, we’re supposed to be patient. Management needs to be patient when it comes to Laval’s roster. The ‘problem’ will resolve itself soon enough; it always does. Let it play out this time.