The Marlies took a 2-1 lead in their Western Conference semifinals series with a 4-1 win over Abbotsford in Game 3 last night. Like their 5-1 Game 2 victory on Thursday, scoring depth, strong play from Ben Scrivens and an unbelievably good penalty kill keyed the Marlies’ success. Scrivens has stopped 57 of his last 59 shots while the Marlies penalty kill has gone a perfect 16 for 16 in the series (and 27 for 28/96.4% in playoffs).
Nazem Kadri and Matt Frattin, playing on the top line together alongside Jerry D’Amigo, are leading the way for the Marlies offensively in the series. Frattin has his third goal in as many games against Abbotsford while Kadri has two goals of his own along with two helpers in three games. Frattin’s shot is on target at the moment, finding accuracy with his powerful release, and he’s bringing a physical game in the process; promising signs from the first-year pro. Kadri was dangerous from puck drop – literally – as on the first shift Kadri went out and caught the Abbotsford D and goaltender Leland Irving napping with a wrap around. A key goal from Kadri as Abbotsford again could not find a way to get themselves back even once they fell behind.
Last night the Marlies also received two contributions from a third line of Marcel Mueller (1g, 1a), Philippe Dupuis (1g, 1a) and Nicolas Deschamps (3a). Deschamps is an interesting name to keep an eye on. While we’ll have to see what he does over a full year with the Marlies next season, he up 30 points in 40 games since coming over in the Caputi trade with Anaheim and now has six points in six games in the playoffs. Consistency has been the gripe with Deschamps but he’s made a consistent impact so far in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Caputi went to Syracuse and put up 22 points in 39 games after scoring just 3 in 21 with the Marlies, so you can see why these change-of-scenery moves are made. From the Marlie perspective, Dave Nonis grabbed a kid with high second round pedigree (35th overall) and a ’90 birthdate who is making big contributions to their Calder Cup bid in exchange for a 24-year-old 4th round pick who wasn’t catching on here – a good little move from the looks of things.
Scrivens continues to impress and his role in a three-goal win cannot be understated. The Marlies built a two-goal lead after one but played a pretty poor second period, spent largely in their own end and killing penalties. The Marlies’ high-pressure penalty kill unit is awesome to watch and deserves high praise, but Scrivens is still a big part of that penalty kill (as any goalie is) and made a number of key saves in the second to limit the Heat to one and avoid coughing up the two goal lead. Following the game, Scrivens went out of his way to mention Francois Allaire yet again, a continuing theme to Scrivens’ interviews as he clearly feels Allaire has been wrongly indicted in the Leafs’ goaltending struggles of the past few seasons. Said Scrivens: “this is what happens when you listen to Franky.”
Looking at the individual playoff stats for the Marlies, their top four point producers are 24 or younger in D’Amigo, Frattin, Kadri and Deschamps and their top two defenders in Holzer and Gardiner are 24 and 21 respectively. Kadri, Frattin and D’Amigo have earned top line placement (D’Amigo started on the third line in Game 1 against Rochester, Frattin was on the second). Not to take away from the key contributions from more veteran members like Zigomanis, Mark Fraser, Phil Dupuis and Ryan Hamilton, that’s what you hope to see from your AHL team in the playoffs from a development standpoint. Â You also have names like Colborne and Blacker, who may need another year down here but are contributing. It should mean we’ll see a good push from young players already in the system starting next season and hopefully some pleasant emergences like the Senators got from ColinÂ Greening, Erik Condra, Zack Smith and Jared Cowen, who all benefited from Binghamton’s run in 2010-11.
All that said, the Marlies are by no means at their end goal, nor is this series anywhere close to wrapped up. Game 4 goes Tuesday in Abbotsford.
Eakins Post Game:
Game in Six: