The schedule makers weren’t kind to Laval last week, putting them in a tough situation of playing five games in seven days with two separate road trips in there. To their credit, the Rocket did relatively well, picking up a trio of victories despite a long list of injuries.
The Week That Was
Nov. 12: Laval 6, Manitoba 2 – The week of rest leading into this stretch did Laval some good as they came out flying, scoring three times in the first and early in the second to chase Oskari Salminen from Manitoba’s net. Special teams were key in this one as the Rocket scored a shorthanded goal along with two power play markers. Meanwhile, Jared Davidson picked up his first career professional goal.
Nov. 13: Laval 5, Manitoba 2 – In a rare morning game (10:30 AM local), the early start didn’t bother Laval who once again scored within the first 90 seconds of the game when Xavier Simoneau picked up his first of the year (and first of two in the game). Meanwhile, Sean Farrell had his first three-point game in the pros, either setting up or scoring the other three markers.
Nov. 15: Belleville 6, Laval 4 – Things couldn’t have started any worse for the Rocket as the Senators picked up four goals in the first, ending Jakub Dobes’ night after just 20 minutes. At that point, it looked as if the rout was on. However, Laval then stormed back with six unanswered from six different goal scorers to pull off the improbable comeback and extend the winning streak to three.
Nov. 17: Lehigh Valley 3, Laval 2 – Unfortunately, that streak came to an end as a visibly fatigued Rocket team didn’t have a lot going for them; they only managed a single shot in the second period. After the Phantoms scored an empty-netter to make it 3-0, things got interesting. Rhett Gardner ran Dobes, giving Laval a five-minute power play with just under four minutes left. They scored twice – including Riley Kidney’s first pro tally – but couldn’t pull off a second straight improbable comeback.
Nov. 18: Utica 6, Laval 3 – A pair of shorthanded goals helped get Laval’s offence going as Joel Armia and Nathan Legare tallied at four-on-five with the latter’s goal giving the Rocket a 3-2 lead. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to hold on as the Comets tied it soon after and picked up the winner midway through the third before adding a pair of empty-netters to make the score look more lopsided than the game actually was.
Goals: Andersson/Roy (7)
Assists: Joshua Roy (11)
Points: Joshua Roy (18)
+/-: Bisson/Keeper (+6)
PIMS: Brady Keeper (35)
Shots: Joshua Roy (53)
News and Notes
– Jayden Struble received a three-game suspension for his involvement in a fracas at the end of the first game in Manitoba. He returned in Utica and had a couple of assists, helping earn himself a recall to the Habs.
– First, the good news on the injury front. Jared Davidson and Xavier Simoneau both returned, briefly giving the Rocket some extra forward depth.
– The bad is that it didn’t last. Lias Andersson will miss six to eight weeks with a lower-body injury while Riley McKay was injured in the first game of the week. He’s day-to-day.
– Two of Laval’s top-six forwards were injured against Lehigh Valley as Mitchell Stephens and Philippe Maillet both left in the first period with injuries. Neither played against Utica, necessitating the recalls of Nolan Yaremko and Alex-Olivier Voyer from ECHL Trois-Rivieres.
Last Game’s Lines:
Roy – Gignac – Farrell
Simoneau – Condotta – Armia
Kidney – Mysak – Legare
Davidson – Yaremko – Voyer
Paquette-Bisson – Mailloux
Struble – Trudeau
Norlinder – Keeper
The Week Ahead
Wednesday/Friday: at Rochester – The first matchup between these two was a high-scoring affair with the two sides combining for 11 goals. This one has the potential to be similarly high-scoring as the Rocket and Americans are the two highest-scoring teams in the Eastern Conference. Two of Buffalo’s top prospects lead the way offensively in Isak Rosen and Jiri Kulich while former Hab Kale Clague is off to a nice start offensively with nine points in 12 games.
Saturday: at Syracuse – After facing one of the teams tied for the division lead in points, Laval gets to face another one of those squads. The first matchup between the two sides didn’t go well with the Rocket being shut out. Former Hab prospect Gabriel Dumont continues to be one of the team leaders offensively. Waltteri Marela is one to keep an eye on; he had been up with Tampa Bay for most of the season but was just sent down a few days ago.
Considering the injuries that have hit Laval’s impact forwards lately, it’s hard to call it a good thing for Jan Mysak but it certainly should be an opportunity. J-F Houle has said he likes the 21-year-old in a depth checking role and, to his credit, it’s a role that Mysak has handled okay. He’s a bit better than last year and slow progress is still good progress.
But Mysak has had some success in a top-six role in the past in junior. We saw him anchor the top line for the Czechs at the World Juniors, the last time being an event that had him as one of the better players in the tournament. However, that opportunity has been next to non-existent in Laval. I get it, his first year (COVID) was when he was 18 and yes, sheltering him made a ton of sense. Last season, they eased him in which is fair.
I’d like to see how Mysak fares with a bit more responsibility. I’m not sure he’s ready for that role on a full-time basis but it would be beneficial development-wise to expose him to heavier minutes and more special teams time, even if it’s just briefly. For a team that has an added emphasis on development, dangling that carrot for a bit might help give him a sense of how he can take that next step forward. Here’s hoping he gets that chance.