Last week for Laval featured an extreme rarity that will be a memorable one but it came against the backdrop of a disappointing week as the Rocket only managed three of a possible six points.
The Week That Was
Oct. 18: Americans 5, Rocket 4 (OT) – Laval had a rough start to this one, finding themselves trailing 3-0 not long after the midway point of the first and being thoroughly outplayed. And then the strangest thing happened. Strauss Mann scored a shorthanded goal. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the newcomers yet, Mann was Laval’s goaltender. A centring feed on a delayed penalty hit Mann and went all the way into the empty net. I can’t sit here and say this woke Laval up but as the game progressed, they got a lot better, eventually making a three-goal comeback to force overtime but Jiri Kulich potted the winner in the extra session.
Oct. 20: Rocket 8, Americans 4 – This time, Laval was able to outscore another tough performance in goal, this time from Jakub Dobes. Several of Montreal’s better prospects played a role in this one. Joshua Roy had a hat trick and five points, Sean Farrell had a two-point effort, Jayden Struble was a rare +5 on the back end, and Filip Mesar picked up his first career AHL point. Riley McKay also added two points in his season debut after sitting for the first three games.
Oct. 21: Senators 5, Rocket 4 – Laval allowed two goals in the first period which is worth mentioning as it’s the fifth straight game this season that has happened. (As a reminder, they’ve played five games.) Goals from Brandon Gignac and Lias Andersson erased that deficit but Belleville retook the lead 11 seconds later. The Rocket made it interesting with Logan Mailloux’s first pro goal cutting the deficit to one early in the third but that’s as close as they were able to get.
Goals: Andersson/Roy (5)
Assists: Joshua Roy (6)
Points: Joshua Roy (11)
+/-: Jayden Struble (+6)
PIMS: Brandon Gignac (145)
Shots: Joshua Roy (20)
News and Notes
– The injury woes aren’t just in Montreal as Brady Keeper was injured against Belleville while Jared Davidson is dealing with an injury suffered in practice. Keeper is out indefinitely while Davidson is listed as week-to-week.
– Joel Armia was recalled to the Habs while Filip Mesar was sent back to Kitchener of the OHL.
– It’s early on but Joshua Roy leads the AHL in points while he and Lias Andersson are in a six-way tie for the league lead in goals.
Last Game’s Lines:
Maillet – Stephens – Andersson
Roy – Condotta – Farrell
Simoneau – Gignac – Legare
Mysak – Kidney – McKay
Struble – Trudeau
Lindstrom – Mailloux
Norlinder – Keeper
The Week Ahead
Friday at Rochester – After hosting them for a pair of games last week, now it’s Laval’s turn to go to Rochester. The Amerks are allowing nearly six goals per game in the early going and allowed an average of six over the two games against the Rocket. However, they’re averaging 4.5 per night as well. Neither team’s goaltending situation is different from last week so this could be another high-scoring affair.
Saturday at Syracuse – Former Rocket head coach Joel Bouchard is now in charge of the Crunch. This was a matchup that Laval had some success in last season, taking six of eight. Syracuse is without Alex Barre-Boulet, the second-best scorer last season in the AHL, as he’s up on a recall with the Lightning. They’re also without Pyotr Kochetkov (a Carolina prospect), meaning this isn’t a bad time to be catching them.
Montreal’s decision to send Filip Mesar back to major junior makes a lot of sense. It’s not as if he’s coming off a dominant performance where he showed that he was too good for that level, a situation that a few players his age typically find themselves in each season. No, he had some struggles adapting to the smaller rink and a situation with his team that was a bit, well, odd.
Having said that, I can’t help but wonder if that decision could have been punted a bit further down the road. The logjam that existed up front is now gone; Mesar’s removal from the roster brought them down to just the minimum of 12 forwards. There was a legitimate opportunity to give him at least a short-term look with some consistent action instead of playing once in a while which is what it looked like would happen with their original 17-forward roster. A bit more time working with Montreal’s development staff could have helped.
In the long run, the decision to send Mesar back is the right one so this isn’t me complaining about the move. But knowing that his desire was to stay in the pros, there might have been a short-term best of both worlds scenario by keeping him around a bit longer. Now that he’ll be back in junior shortly (the transfer paperwork is still being processed), expectations will be much higher for him now this season as one of Kitchener’s oldest players. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares.