By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277
In a recent article, I wrote which can be seen HERE, I mentioned how well Providence Bruins goaltender Dan Vladar was doing in his return to the crease after a lengthy lower-body injury. In this article, I’d like to stay with the goaltending depth with the Boston Bruins top minor-pro affiliate and talk about the effort thus far of netminder Max Lagace who’s having a successful first year with the B’s organization and is worthy of honorable mention in my opinion.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) September 27, 2019
The Man, The Myth, The Lagace
Since joining the Providence club as an undrafted free agent, the 26-year-old veteran netminder was signed to a one-year, two-way contract over the 2019 summer offseason and has made an immediate impact to the top-minor pro affiliate of the NHL’s Boston Bruins. The journeyman netminder is having a career year which has him ranked with some of the AHL’s best in categories such as shutouts (Ranked #1), Wins (Ranked #2), games played (Ranked #5), goals-against-average (Ranked 9th), and save percentage (Ranked #10).
— Providence Bruins (@AHLBruins) December 19, 2019
This was a sneaky good signing from Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney because it addressed several different needs for the Boston organization. His addition to the B’s minor-pro depth in the crease covers the veteran leadership left from departing Zane McIntyre but also covers areas of concern at the NHL level with what’s to become of current backup netminder Jaroslav Halak. With the uncertainty of Halak staying or going, Lagace being in the mix may be the insurance policy or back up plan for each scenario. Although limited Max does have NHL experience which he gathered as a member of the Vegas Golden Knights before signing with the Boston club. In 17 career games at the highest level of hockey in the world the Longueuil, QC native has a record of 6-8-1 with a goals-against-average of 3.92 and .868 save percentage.
— AHL (@TheAHL) October 6, 2019
Lagace and his Dominance in the city of Providence
So far in Providence this season the game plan is to seemingly give the workload to the veteran Lagace playing two of every three contests to keep him sharp and ready at a moment’s notice if services are needed at the NHL level. The AHL predominately operates on a weekend schedule with the occasional Wednesday night game but Providence players are very active with daily practice times and a travel schedule that’s close to the Rhode Island operations to allow the appropriate ice time. To me even though one netminder sees a little more time in the crease than another developing goaltender, the AHL level I see it as a “1A” and “1B” tandem scenario with games sometimes three in a row on a Friday to Sunday weekly schedule.
This season as the workhorse on the backend with injuries to aforementioned Vladar and his replacement from the “AA” minor-pro affiliated with the Atlanta Gladiators Kyle Keyser, Lagace has appeared in 20 of the 34 games played in the 2019-20 regular season. In that timeframe, Max has a 13-4-2 with a 2.36 goals-against-average, and .919 save percentage. Although mentioned previously, Lagace’s league-leading five shutouts have been nothing but amazing to watch, to be honest. Max has also been a benefactor of the knowledge and wisdom of former NHL goaltenders and now Boston Bruins goaltending coaching tandem of Bob Essensa and assistant Mike Dunham as previously mentioned in my Vladar piece seen HERE.
The Providence Bruins club is in first place of the Atlantic Division with a 20-11-1-2 record and 43 points, two points ahead of second-place Hartford Wolf Pack who the AHL Bruins team is set tom play in the final game of this current five-game road trip. With Vladar getting the start last night in a 4-3 victory on the over the cross-state rival Springfield Thunderbirds, it’s hard not to imagine with the way things have been scheduled that Providence Head Coach Jay Leach will look to Lagace to start in the crease tonight. If in fact, Max gets the nod in goal he’ll be going against one of the AHL’s top-ranked teams, and a 14th victory tonight will only bring him closer to his career-high of 15 and with this being game 35 of 76 of the 2019-20 regular season, there’s a strong chance he’ll surpass all career AHL numbers from the past and do it with a class organization, to say the least.