The Marlies kept on marching in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals despite a significant layoff after a quick second round series win against Abbotsford. Call them the Los Angeles Kings of the AHL post season; they’re now 8-1 in the playoffs and it seems to matter little whether they’re playing at home or away. Not that theÂ atmospheres in Abbotsford or Oklahoma City were intimidating (unless you suffer from seatophobia), butÂ Marlies are perfect 5-0 on the road after last night’s 5-0 win.
Ben Scrivens recorded his second shutout of the playoffs and again he worked for the win, stopping all 31 shots. Scrivens has posted the best numbers of any goaltender in the AHL playoffs (8-1, 1.43 GAA, .951 SV%) and he’s done it while facing no shortage of pucks. Fitting in line with Burke’s organizational philosophy, or at least his original organizational philosophy, the Marlies play an aggressive game, offensively and defensively, and are showing us the possibilities when you pair that with top notch goaltending and a stymying penalty kill. With Carlyle behind his bench Burke appears to have made an adjustment at the big league level in the direction of a more defensive focus – looking at the NHL playoffs this year, probably a smart idea – but it’s exciting stuff to watch nonetheless.
The Marlies continue to get contributions from up and down the lineup, including a goal from an unlikely source in 2012, Joe Colborne. From what I saw the injured Colborne spent a lot of time on the fourth line with Will Acton and Jay Rosehill but found himself on the ice with Dupuis and Kadri and bulged the twine for the first time since February 17.
The line of Kadri, Frattin and D’Amigo was irresistable throughout, scoring once but deserving a few more. Frattin’s sixth – another wrist shot from the circle, his shot is on the money at the moment – puts him into a tie with Jerry D’Amigo for the AHL playoff scoring lead.
The players you hope would look a cut above the rest have looked exactly that in these playoffs for the Marles, with the exception of Colborne, who can be excused on account of what looks to be a hindering injury. Frattin looked like he could do as he pleased with the puck last night, Kadri (two assists) was everywhere, and Jake Gardiner scored on a beautiful individual effort where he spun his wheels to squeak by a check on the boards and took it out front for a backhand finish. In addition to Frattin, Kadri and Gardiner (the three you would hope stand out, and have), Jerry D’Amigo can be added to the list and of course, Scrivens, who is simply the best AHL goaltender going.
Continued contributions from Marcel Mueller and Nicolas Deschamps, who each scored and assisted last night, gives them seven points apiece in the playoffs, providing some quality secondary scoring to the Marlie attack. Add Dupuis’ name in there as well as the three played together and posted two points each. Dupuis now has eight in nine post season games.
Can the Marlies stay perfect on the road and gain a 2-0 series lead before heading home for three games? We’ll find out soon enough as Game 2 goes tonight at 8 p.m (Leafs TV).
Marlies Game in Six
Check out the highlights from last night’s 5-0 win in the series opener.
Post game interviews with Gardiner, Scrivens, Colborne and more
Over at the Leafs TV videocentre.
Marlies Open Conference Finals with a win
Jeff Veillette at MarliesHQ with a recap.
Marlie success guarantees little when it comes to the Leafs, but it should help a bitâ€¦
Michael Langlois rains on our parade. By that I mean he takes a realistic look at the possible impact the Marlies’ run may have on the big club.
Leafs’ Nazem Kadri continues to grow with Marlies
The big thing for Kadri in terms of his next step is being able to apply his skill at an NHL pace. He looks great against AHL-speed competition.
BCE, Rogers seek to clear last regulatory hurdle in MLSE deal
Completion of the new ownership deal is nearing.