A return home after a tough road trip didn’t do much to change Laval’s fortunes. While they did pick up an impressive comeback victory, they didn’t muster up much in their other two games, both multi-goal losses.
The Week That Was
Nov. 1: Utica 4, Laval 1 – A visit from the one other team in the North Division who started almost as poorly as Laval had seemed like a good opportunity for the Rocket. Unfortunately, their offensive struggles from the end of the previous week carried over to this one as the only goal they could muster up was from Jayden Struble who notched his first professional tally. On the other side, Xavier Parent capped off the hat-trick with a late empty-netter to secure the victory for the Comets.
Nov. 3: Laval 5, Toronto 3 – Things were looking pretty good for the Rocket until a rough final couple of minutes in the second that saw them get scored on twice gave Toronto the lead. The Marlies added one early in the third and it looked like another loss in the making. However, Laval bounced back with Philippe Maillet scoring his first two of the season including the winner sandwiching Jan Mysak’s first of the year which tied things up. A nince bounce-back win for a team who has struggled so far.
Nov. 4: Toronto 5, Laval 0 – This time, there was no comeback or even a sniff of one. The game was within reach through 40 minutes with the deficit at two but the Marlies potted three within the first half of the third period to put it out of reach and the Rocket couldn’t muster up much to try to get back on track.
Goals: Lias Andersson (7)
Assists: Joshua Roy (7)
Points: Joshua Roy (12)
+/-: Brady Keeper (+4)
PIMS: Riley McKay (24)
Shots: Joshua Roy (40)
News and Notes
– In an effort to shake things up a bit, forwards Nolan Yaremko and Jakov Novak were brought up from Trois-Rivieres of the ECHL. Both players suited up once and then were sent back down.
– On the injury front, a recent recall from Lions was injured as John Parker-Jones is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Meanwhile, Xavier Simoneau suffered an undisclosed injury in Friday’s victory over Toronto.
– Joshua Roy’s production has fallen off lately (let’s face it, he wasn’t going to keep up that level of output) but he still did well enough to be named October’s Rookie of the Month across the AHL.
Last Game’s Lines:
Roy – Stephens – Farrell
Kidney – Gignac – Andersson
Mysak – Maillet – Condotta
McKay – Legare
Struble – Trudeau
Bisson – Mailloux
Norlinder – Keeper
The Week Ahead
In a bit of a scheduling oddity, Laval has the upcoming week off before beginning a stretch of five games in seven days which includes a pair of separate road trips. Extra practice time is definitely useful for Laval right now but condensing games in that tight of a window is hardly ideal.
What a difference a month can make when it comes to prospect evaluation. Heading into training camp, Mattias Norlinder was basically an afterthought. His first full season with Laval didn’t go well and since he had one year left on his contract, he’d probably play it out and go back overseas. But, hey, with a lot of other left-shot prospects in the system, he wouldn’t be a big loss.
Then came training camp. One good game led to another and another and all of a sudden, he legitimately found himself battling for the final spot on the back end. While that spot ultimately went to Justin Barron, it looked as if Norlinder had worked his way from a non-factor back to an intriguing prospect. He’d go back to Laval, build on that, and find himself in the mix for an early recall when injuries arose (and boy, it didn’t take long for that to happen).
But here we are, around a month later and how has Norlinder performed? Somewhere inside the range of bad and terribly. He was once known for being an offensively-gifted blueliner but we don’t see much of that from him now. The defensive improvements that were there a year ago aren’t as visible now. Instead of playing a prominent role, he has slid down the depth chart.
Yes, it has been a rough year defensively for Laval and Norlinder is hardly the only one to take a step back when it comes to playing in his own end. But at 23, he’s one of the veterans on the back end, certainly one of the more experienced players. They need him to help lead the way. Right now, he’s helping lead the way but in the wrong direction entirely. Suffice it to say, it has been an eventful couple of months for the 2019 third-rounder.