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After snapping a long losing streak at home, Laval was back on the road last week for a pair of Atlantic Division matchups.  They played well in the first game to pick up a win before putting up one of their worst performances of the season the next night.

The Week That Was

December 15: Laval 4, Lehigh Valley 3 – Laval was down by two early in the second period before Brandon Gignac picked up a shorthanded goal to get the Rocket going.  Lucas Condotta then potted the equalizer a minute later.  While the Phantoms retook the lead, it was two of Montreal’s youngsters who made the difference in the third.  Jan Mysak tied it up while Riley Kidney scored the game-winner on the power play with 67 seconds left; Jakub Dobes made a career-high 42 saves in the win.

December 16: Hershey 7, Laval 1 – The Bears are back to being one of the top teams in the league and it showed in this one.  Garrett Roe didn’t have a goal in his first 15 games of the year.  He scored three, including the first two in the first 6:12 of the game to get the rout going early.  Meanwhile, Laval could barely muster up anything offensively; William Trudeau snapped the shutout bid late in the second and that was it.



# Player GP G A +/- SOG PIMS
4 Tobie Bisson 2 0 0 E 0 2
10 Joshua Roy 2 0 1 E 6 0
13 Nicolas Beaudin 1 0 0 E 0 0
14 Jan Mysak 2 1 0 -1 4 0
17 Nathan Legare 2 0 1 E 3 0
20 Gabriel Bourque 2 0 1 +1 2 2
21 Riley Kidney 2 1 0 -1 7 2
23 Nolan Yaremko 2 0 1 +1 1 5
24 Logan Mailloux 2 0 0 E 2 0
29 Mattias Norlinder 2 0 0 -3 0 2
37 Brandon Gignac 2 1 1 -2 3 2
42 Lucas Condotta 2 1 0 E 2 0
43 Alex-Olivier Voyer 2 0 1 E 1 0
44 Olivier Galipeau 2 0 0 -1 3 0
49 Jared Davidson 1 0 0 E 1 2
61 Philippe Maillet 2 0 0 -1 1 2
68 Riley McKay 2 0 0 E 1 6
72 Arber Xhekaj 2 0 1 E 1 2
84 William Trudeau 2 1 0 +1 1 2


# Player Record GAA SV% SO
38 Strauss Mann 0-1-0 7.00 .800 0
71 Jakub Dobes 1-0-0 3.00 .933 0

Team Leaders:

Goals: Gignac/Roy (8)
Assists: Brandon Gignac (16)
Points: Brandon Gignac (24)
+/-: Mitchell Stephens (+7)
PIMS: Riley McKay (49)
Shots: Joshua Roy (82)

News and Notes

– Xavier Simoneau took a hit to the head in their victory over Hartford and he was not in the lineup for either game this week.  There’s no word on how long he’ll be out of the lineup for.

– With Simoneau injured and Emil Heineman up with Montreal, Jakov Novak and Alex-Olivier Voyer were recalled from Trois-Rivieres of the ECHL.

– There are 48 goalies league-wide who have played enough to be ‘qualifying’ goalies.  Of those, Laval has the 45th and 48th in GAA and 43rd and 46th in save percentage.  That played a big role in them signing veteran Kasimir Kaskisuo to a PTO deal.

Last Game’s Lines:

Roy – Gignac – Maillet
Kidney – Condotta – Bourque
Mysak – Yaremko – Voyer
McKay – Legare

Xhekaj – Mailloux
Trudeau – Paquette-Bisson
Norlinder – Galipeau

The Week Ahead

Wednesday at Syracuse – After getting crushed in their first matchup, Laval put up a much better effort in their second one last month.  The Crunch are in a battle for the top spot in the North Division and are one of the stingiest penalty killing teams in the AHL, running at over 86% so far.  Felix Robert and Gage Goncalves each have four points against the Rocket so far this season.

Friday vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton – The Penguins are faring a lot better than their NHL counterparts as they’re in a battle for second in the Atlantic (Hershey is already running away with the division).  Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has several players familiar to the Habs.  Rem Pitlick is their leading scorer while Xavier Ouellet is second in scoring among defencemen.  Former prospect Samuel Houde is currently injured but is averaging a point per game while Peter Abbandonato, who had 46 points last season for Laval, was recently acquired in a trade from AHL Chicago.

Final Thought

Laval finally decided the time was right for them to try to do something about the goalies, about a month later than they should have done so.  Jakub Dobes has shown some positive signs lately but overall, still seems to be a bit overmatched at the moment.  Strauss Mann, meanwhile, hasn’t fared much better and at 25, it’s fair to suggest he’s probably not in the long-term plans of the organization.

That led to Kasimir Kaskisuo’s signing on a PTO deal.  After a tough year in Sweden last season, he wasn’t playing anywhere in 2023-24 which is important to remember.  This is not a case of someone coming in that is going to instantly upgrade Laval’s goaltending and turn their fortunes around.  Or, at least, that shouldn’t be the expectation.  Instead, this is someone hoping to keep his career going.

My memory of Kaskisuo from his time with the Marlies is that he was a bit more volatile than teams generally like to see between the pipes.  When he was on, he could dominate a game but when he was off, teams could run it up pretty quickly.  If that holds up with the Rocket, the net gain over someone like Mann is going to going to be limited.  There might be a few more good games but there will still be more ‘clunkers’ than we’d like to see. 

Is this an improvement?  Potentially, but only slightly unless Kaskisuo has a big breakthrough, it won’t change Laval’s fortunes much.  It’s a worthwhile attempt but expectations should be tempered; this isn’t the big fix to save their season here.