Game Night: Bulldogs at Marlies (7 p.m., Sportsnet One)

Game Night: Bulldogs at Marlies (7 p.m., Sportsnet One)

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After a combined 8-1 loss the last two games, the Marlies look to get back on track tonight in the return leg of a home and home against Hamilton.

The Marlies are having a difficulty converting their edge in shots and possession into goals at the moment. They’ve outshot their opponents 84 to 39 the last two outings and lost by a combine scored of 8-1, which speaks to issues beyond just scoring goals and certainly their defence hasn’t been itself the last two games. Considering the Marlies were the least scored on team in the AHL last season and have returned the same goalie and what should be an even better D group, the Marlies’ offence (that was middle of the pack last season) is a little more concerning if we’re going to be concerned about anything three games in.

It’s hopefully just a small funk to start the season, a product of trying to find the right chemistry among the combinations up front. Eakins will be stressing the need to simplify, fight for the good ice (way too much perimeter play/shooting) and cut down on the cute play that crept into the team’s habits once the Lake Erie game got away from them early. The return of Frattin to the lineup can’t come soon enough. The Marlies could really use a trigger man in the lineup, particularly alongside a Kadri, Colborne or Aucoin. What is unquestionable is that the talent is there and it should be a matter of time before they figure it out.

The game can be seen on Sportsnet One at 7 p.m. tonight. Stay tuned for lineup information. My guess is that we’ll see Jussi Rynnas in net tonight and a few more tweaks in the forward lines.

Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]