Rookie blueliner Roy gaining confidence with each game
As the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League prepare to play the Manitoba Moose at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg tonight, one Bulldog-turned-Oiler sits in his stall at Rexall Place 1300 kilometres away.
Mathieu Roy has played most of the season with the Bulldogs but with the current rash of injuries on the Edmonton blueline hes been pressed into duty.
"Hes getting some more confidence," said Oilers assistant coach Charlie Huddy. "Hes handling the puck well and defending well."
Roys play in each of the three games hes suited up in has improved to the point where he netted an important goal on Wednesday night in the teams 3-2 win over San Jose.
"Its unbelievable," said Roy. "I never thought it would come that fast, honestly. When the puck went in I was pretty excited about it."
The goal came in Roys fourth career NHL game. He played his first as an Oiler last season – a February contest against the St. Louis Blues.
Much of Roys improved play this season can be attributed to the added responsibilities hes been getting in AHL Hamilton. With six goals in only 31 games, he has already doubled his previous career high in that category.
"Down there Ive been playing a lot, tons of minutes. Ive been improving my defensive game a lot, too," he said. "Ive been playing power play and penalty kill all the time and improving my game overall."
In addition to his six goals and 18 points, Roy leads all Bulldogs defencemen in scoring and leads the team with a +17 rating. His impressive numbers resulted in him being the only Oilers farmhand named to the AHL All-Star game in Toronto at the end of this month.
"Theyve got good coaching down there. You can see that theres been a lot of improvement since they left here at training camp," Huddy said of both Roy and current Wilkes-Barre call-up Tom Gilbert.
Still, despite his recent success. Roy isnt taking anything for granted and knows a healthy blueline could see his return to Hamilton.
"Its hard to feel comfortable up here now," he said. "When you want to stay here as long as you can, you cant get into a comfort zone. You have to improve yourself and try to impress night after night."
Helping Roy in his transition is the ability to play on the same pairing as Marc-Andre Bergeron.
"Were good friends off the ice so I think that carries onto the ice, too. Weve got a good relationship and good communication so that helps a lot on the back end," he remarked.
Huddy also feels that Roys improved play every game has been encouraging.
"Hes doing a lot of good things for us. Its just a matter of the confidence thing; get a little more confidence every game in handling the puck and things like that."