Toronto Marlies : Realism Torn Too

Toronto Marlies : Realism Torn Too

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#NHLAnagrams have been a big thing on twitter over the past week, and what a riot we’ve had. Some of the creations have been strictly comical (Daniel Alfredsson = An Idle Ass Fondler), some have been ridiculous (Brian Burke = Urban Biker) and others have fit so perfectly, you would think that it was by some magical force that their name and anagram had come to be (Zdeno Chara = A Hazard Cone, Vesa Toskala = aka Lost).

With the Toronto Marlies seven points back with 12 games to go, I’m torn as to my thoughts of the post-season and based on the Marlies’ anagram, Realism Torn Too.

Here’s the brass tax:

  • The Marlies must climb to 4th in the North division to make the playoffs, currently occupied by the Manitoba Moose
  • The Hamilton Bulldogs have already clinched a playoff berth in the North
  • The Marlies have a game in hand over the rest of the teams in their division
  • Ten of the final 12 games will be played against teams that currently have a top-4 spot in the North (Hamilton x3, Rochester x3, Abbotsford x2 & Manitoba x2)

Realism is definitely torn.

The easy way out is for me to use one of the usual suspect cliche’s, such as “their future is in their hands.” But if I kept doing that, I’d probably lose the 12 of you that actually read this - so here’s how I see it:

The best the Marlies can hope to finish is 4th. The Marlies are an unattainable 13pts behind the Roche/tsford duo currently occupying the number two spot, and an incredible 35pts behind first place Hamilton. With the 4th spot in mind, the over/under for wins in the final 12 to make realism a little less torn is 8.5. No matter who the Marlies beat, if they can pound out nine wins they have a realistic shot at the playoffs. Now for the money question, can it happen?

Yes (simple enough?).

I have never known a team to be hit so hard with the injury bug as the Marlies were this season. The baby buds spent over two weeks with ten of their 20-man starting roster out. They have seen peck tears, back tweaks, high ankle sprains, knee injuries, and if that wasn’t enough, H1N1. During a recent game against the Hartford Wolfpack a mix of injuries and call-ups left coach Dallas Eakins with only 15 skaters – FIFTEEN! It looked like a beer league contest. But the result? 3-0 Marlies. The skill is there.

Two of the nine “must-wins” will come against East division Syracuse and Binghamton (it was Bingo that put Reimer out of the lineup for the better part of 10 weeks).  Another two vs 4th place Manitoba, the club the buds are trying to catch. The Moose were the AHL’s top team last year, but a poor season series against the Marlies propelled the Toronto club into the playoffs. The Toronto Marlies have also continued to leash the Moose this season and currently lead the series.

The Toronto/Hamilton rivalry is a mirror image of the NHL’s Toronto/Montreal battles. Ricoh regulars pack the barn and sacrifice their lungs during these games, and the players feed off of it. Toronto could lead the league and Hamilton could be the cellar dweller and it would still be anyone’s game.

And what about the three losses? Rochester. I’m not sure if it’s the shield on the sweater of the Amerk’s goalie, or the “Plante” name plate on the back, but the Marlies can’t buy a win from these guys. The’ve been outscored 15-6 and only picked up a single point over the five meetings with Rochester. Pray for two wins against the Americans, expect one.

Realism torn. Clayton torn too. It’s going to a bumpy ride if Toronto wants to see post-season hockey, a bumpy ride in the back of your parents beat-up Reliant-K, in which the shocks have been blown longer than your mind allows you to remember, and has been travelling on a flat tire for the last two country miles. But that’s what hockey’s about. Leaving it on the ice. Beating the odds. Adrenaline.

Marlies will continue their push today at home against their AHL rival, Hamilton Bulldogs at 4:00pm. It will then continue at the Ricoh Coliseum tomorrow vs the 3rd place Abbotsford Heat, a blood bath that will be televised nationally on CBC (see results from the Oct 20/21 games). The Toronto Maple Leafs 2nd round pick in 2009, defenseman Jesse Blacker, will make his pro debut against the Bulldogs. Let’s Go Marlies.

For a laugh, I’ll leave you with a couple Marlies related #AHLAnagrams:

Jesse Blacker = Backless Jeer

Joey MacDonald = An Odd Camel

Phil Oreskovic = Ooh, Slick Viper

Simon Gysbers = Embryo Signs

James Reimer = A Jeer Simmer

(leave your own below)