MLHS is pleased to have Daniel Kovalevsky, better known as Pent_House around these parts, contributing some Marlies writings going forward.
A pivotal match against the Montreal Canadien’s AHL affiliate, The Hamilton Bull-Dogs, awaited the Marlies at the Ricoh on Saturday, as these divisional foes met up for their 5th of 12 regular season contests. Along with being the Battle of Ontario in the AHL, this game was important for the Marlies as these teams are divisional rivals in a tightly-grouped North Division, with the 4th place Bulldogs only 2 points behind the 1st place Marlies. The Marlies came into the game with the Western Conference’s highest home ice winning percentage, with 8 wins in 10 home-games (.800%). The Marlies have been playing at the top of their game recently, winning 6 of their last 8 games and, despite having one of the youngest squads in the AHL, have managed to stay atop of the North Division. With the Ricoh being a tough building to play in for road teams, recent hot play for a rested Marlies team, and a tired Bulldogs team, the Marlies came into this game hoping to take full advantage and to create some separation in the standings.
Line-up at puck-drop:
McLeod – Carrick – Abbott
Broll – Nagy – Bodie
Ross – Smithson – Biggs
Devane – Crescenzi – Staubitz
Percy – Holzer
Brennan – Marshall
MacWilliam – Granberg
– D’Amigo and John-Michael Liles have all been called up to the NHL
– Leivo was either scratched or is nursing an injury.
– McKegg is a notable player not in the line-up due to injury.
The game started uneventfully until a Fournier vs Staubitz scrap 5 mins in. Staubitz won the fight with some huge right-handed bombs. Soon after, McLeod gets a great chance on the rush from a slick pass from Abbott but couldn’t convert. Close to 9 minutes in Biggs throws a massive hit on Nattinen, then pummels Zurewinski in a scrap, who tries to come in and stand-up for his teammate. Nattinen immediately heads for the dressing room and the game heads to 4 on 4 play. Later in the period, Marshall takes a high-sticking penalty trying to back-check on a play. On the Hamilton PP, a quick pass cross crease and a lucky bounce leads to the puck finding its way behind MacIntyre. The Hamilton Bulldogs go up 1-0. The Marlies try to bounce back with some good shifts hemming the Bulldogs in their own zone and creating turn-overs. A chippy first period ends with the Marlies down by 1 against the Bulldogs. Shots 9-8 for the Bulldogs after 1.
Great chance early for the Marlies as Brennan joins the rush. Just shortly after Granberg loses the puck in his own zone, it goes behind the net, MacWilliam can’t get a stick on it, Smithson over commits to the corner, and Hamilton captain St. Pierre is left open in the slot to bang in his 2nd of the game. 2-0 Bulldogs two minutes into the 2nd period. The Nagy line responds with some zone time after the goal, and is the only line with any consistent attack for the Marlies. The 4th line comes out with a cycle and generates a holding call against Hamilton. The Marlies head to the PP, but can’t generate anything. The Bulldogs started to take the game over as the period continued on. Bad-turn overs and d-zone coverage plagued the Marlies as they got hemmed in their own zone. After killing off a Carrick high-sticking penalty, the Marlies received a 4-minute PP on a slashing call with 4:01 left in the 2nd period, a huge chance for the Marlies to get back into the game. The 1st PP unit doesn’t create much, but the 2nd unit does. Ross passes down low to Holzer, who rips a shot from almost the goal-line that’s deflected off a Bulldog to get the Marlies on the board, and the teddy bears to flood the ice (teddybear toss game). 2-1 Bulldogs with the Marlies still on the PP. After the ice is cleared, the Marlies can’t capitalize on the remainder of the PP and go to the dressing room down 2-1. There was much less hitting this period. The shots were 19-15 for the Bulldogs after two periods. Despite scoring a late period PP goal, the period was characterized by off-sides, sloppy play, and limited chances for the Marlies.
Hamilton’s Dietz takes a quick slashing call and the Marlies head to their 4th PP. The PP doesn’t lead to goal and has trouble breaking out and setting-up all game. The Bulldogs continue to do a good job of stifling the Marlies. MacIntyre flashes the leather on a great glove-save 6 minutes into the 3rd to keep the Marlies in it. Spott starts juggling his lines looking for a spark. Smithson and McLeod started seeing their ice-time dip. With about 9 minutes left, Smithson takes a tripping penalty sending the Marlies to the PK. Nagy gets a good chance short-handed, and the Marlies kill the penalty. With about 4 minutes left in the game, the Marlies start to push hard for an equalizer with Holzer buzzing all over the offensive zone. Holzer comes down from the blue-line, takes a shot on goal, skates around the net, ends up in the slot and takes an elbow to the face, bringing the Marlies to their fifth PP. The Marlies again can’t create much on the PP. The Marlies pull their goalie, but ultimately can’t tie up the game and fall to the bulldogs 2-1 final.
- Broll was the best forward, in my opinion. Hustled hard all game long, picked-off some pucks in the neutral zone, drove the net with speed, and got some shots off. He has played with increased confidence over the last few weeks with increased playing time, PP time, and scoring his 1st goal.
- I wanted to see how Granberg would do without Liles as his partner. He was still pretty solid, despite losing the puck on a play that lead to a goal. His play will be a focus as he plays with less experienced guys for the time being.
- Smithson is not looking great back with the Marlies. Left the slot wide-open on 2-0 goal, several off-sides, several turn-overs in the d-zone, and a bad penalty in the 3rd period, which lead to his minutes dropping as the game went on.
- Kevin Marshall got back into the line-up and got paired up with Brennan.
- That pairing struggled all night even though they didn’t lead to a goal. Brennan was especially bad on this night with several turn-overs in the d-zone, bobbled passes, and just generally looking uncomfortable during the game. He’s starting to cool down a little after starting his season blazing-hot.
- With some shuffles on the back-end, Percy got moved up to play with Holzer and that pairing was the best all game. Both guys played in all situations and seem to mesh together well. Holzer has been the best d-man for me over the last couples weeks.
- Holzer has developed a little offense in his game, being more aggressive in the offensive zone with pinching, a quick wrister that I haven’t seen from him until this season, and some increased PP time.
- He was lucky on his PP goal, but when you send the puck on net good things happen. To go along with the offence, he’s back to his mean game in the defensive end and has been effective all season long. He should be the next d-man on the call-up list, IMO.
- The PP really had trouble Saturday night despite going 1/5. Couldn’t break out cleanly, didn’t get to set-up, poor decisions, and bad passing.
- Carrick and Abbott have been hot as 2/3 of the Marlies top-line over recent weeks, but were shut-down tonight and couldn’t generate anything all game. Look for these guys to bounce-back next weekend.
- MacIntyre was again solid on Saturday, and couldn’t really be blamed on either goal against.
- Nothing really glaring on the night, just a game where the Marlies didn’t put forth a great effort, which prevented them for generating enough offence to win the game.
- With a team lacking in many skill players, the Marlies will need good special teams, solid defensive play, and a work-man like effort most nights to win games.
The Marlies now sit 12-9-1, second in the North Division and two points behind last Saturday’s (and this Friday’s) opponent, the Hamilton Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have three games in hand, however. The Marlies’ next game is this Friday in Hamilton before returning home to host St. John’s on Sunday.
Nonis wasnt the only GM who didnt think Grabbo was worth 5 mil,No other GM was willing to trade for him
The only problem I have with the buy out of Grabo is that seems very much like it was Carlyle that forced Nonis hand.
Grabo was sent out of town while Carlylse poster boy Bozak was resigned.
Grabovski now with 9 goals and 26 points and leading the caps with +6, and now ahead of the Leafs in the standings. Nonis made a bad decision on this one.
Jeeze Phaneuf got 2 games lets see how much Richard Panik's hit tonight gets.. https://d3j5vwomefv46c.cloudfront.net/photos/large/826856322.gif?1386726866
Better fill it with rancid meats. Need all the help we can get.
so, given all MLSE's cash, why don't we have the best farm system for trainers, coaches, etc...? we should be the goldman sachs of the hockey world... and why do we only have barb underhill? every player should have their own damn skating coach and strength and conditioning coach... use your financial might MLSE!
Hello Leafs fans!
A few of you may remember me as a Kings fan. I've rarely posted here of late, mostly because my team has rarely played yours in recent years. But we get to renew acquaintances tomorrow night, and I'm definitely looking forward to the matchup!
So for a little while, I'm happy to entertain any questions you might have of the Kings. In return, I'd like to get a sense of how Bernier is working out for you guys. Was sad to see him dealt, but glad he went somewhere he was needed and wanted. Seemed he was playing very well early on (when I had a free preview of Center Ice) but I've not seen him play in many weeks.
By the way, you're welcome: very glad to punish the Habs for your pleasure.
@B_Leaf If our two best centers weren't injured we would not care how well grabo has been playing, i'll tell you that.
@B_Leaf You saying you like Grabbo over Bozak and Bolland. Not me, just pissed they are both hurt. Grabbo was expendable.
@B_Leaf Who could've known!
@Tim Horton Looked like it knocked him out cold...
@Tim Horton Beat's Gretzky's 50 goals in 37 games.
@Tim Horton No shit... Selfish Russian must never pass the puck.
@Staples From my perspective the Bernier~Reimer split has worked quite well. Fans of either netminder would like to see their guy get a longer stretch at a time, but it looks like its a shared job right not. Impressed with Bernier in a lot of ways. Intelligent guy, knows how to kill rebounds, never seems to lose sight of where the puck is. Lots of highlight stops. Missed the odd fluky one, but both goalies are working behind a defence that's been a little mixed up this season.
Serious question, what's up with Frattin. Lots of Leaf fans didn't want to lose him and it looked like he was ready to take the next step in his development.
@Staples Looking forward to tomorrow's game... a good measuring game... ok, actually, it's because I'm going to it... hope it's not too much of a blood bath and that the Buds get a point out of it....
@Staples Bernier has really only had a couple of strange moments. Two really bad, bizarre goals against at bad times for no apparent reason. Both in the 3rd, leading to a tying goal. But other than that, him and Reimer are our entire team right now. He's been great. Cool as a cucumber. Really economical. A little susceptible on point shots it seems, which is where he's worse than Reimer. Great at scrambling in tight and rebound control, which is where he might be a little better than Reimer.
We have had a terrible time getting out of our own end against teams that can forecheck us into the ground. That, in a nutshell, is the LA Kings. How bad are we going to lose tomorrow? Note that we are without Phaneuf.
@Alec Brownscombe Lot's of us did, why couldn't management see the same??
Hard to say regarding Frattin. He's gotten plenty of ice time, but has been moved up and down the lineup. While Sutter gave him an early chance with Richards and Carter, Frattin just didn't produce. Now he's more of a speed-and-forecheck guy. It'll be interesting to see what happens when the team gets healthier and Lewis can play again. We have a logjam of sorts with our bottom-6 forwards. Have to think if it comes down to either Lewis or Frattin, Sutter will sit Frattin.
But good to hear you guys are happy with Bernier. He's not perfect but he's pretty darn effective. Hope his stickhandling and pokechecking has improved!
I doubt it'll be a bloodbath. We have at times had a really dominating forecheck, but still run into problems scoring goals. Tonight was an exception and I was glad to relax and just enjoy the third period without any drama.
Have to admit that tonight's game in Montreal was the best 60 minutes the Kings have played this year. Part of it, I suspect, was that the Canadiens didn't prepare for us as well as our conference foes usually do -- understandable since your team only plays teams from the other conference twice a year now. So they didn't really disrupt or take away much from our game. But you guys have Carlyle, who knows our squad and our tactics really well. So I most definitely don't expect this kind of blowout to happen twice in a row.
@Coldincowtown @Cloud09 Usually helps if he's given the chance to play the "seasoned" players more. He rarely ever gets a chance to face them even though he has a pretty decent chance at them. Look at the Pittsburgh game, Kadri was put against Malkin and did a damn good job shutting down Malkin. Carlyle refuses to let Kadri play in these situations how the hell do you expect him to learn. Kadri can and has the will to be a #1 centre, he just needs a shot at it.
@Cloud09 @Coldincowtown if you actually pay attention to what Kadri does in his own end, it would be painfully obvious how bad he is one on one against strong centre men. He gets rag dolled regularly. And while he is slowly getting better on the draw, he is still completely outclassed against more seasoned players, hence my view he is a third line centre, perhaps second line against weaker teams. But when playing teams like Boston, take your pick as Krecji and Bergeron both own him. I am not saying I don't like Kadri, I just don't think he is capable of playing well against top line guys, period. Oh. and you can find me in Calgary, watching hockey and being objective, so throw sticks and stones all you want, i've been around long enough to know what I see and be objective about player deficiencies.
@Coldincowtown wow.... where do they find you guys. Kadri a 3rd line centre, Bozak good in his own end. Bolland was a bright spot until his injury, I like him and hope he comes back sooner rather than later, but there was a lot of bad habits even before the injuries.
@Cloud09 @Coldincowtown Well, then we went from three third line centres, down to one ,with injuries, and have 4th, 5th and 6th line centres in their place. There isn't a team in the league that wouldn't be struggling if they lost their top two centres for an extended period of time. When healthy we have a mediocre centre core surrounded by elite wingers, average D and great goaltending. All this gives us a chance to win more than we lose. Now we have AHL centres instead. Shocking that we struggle with puck possession.
@Cloud09 @Coldincowtown Well, they might be third line centers in your mind, but they were clearly one and two for us. They win faceoffs, are decent in their own end and get pucks to our talented wingers. We do not have depth guys who can do that, Kadri included. As a result, we lose draws, struggle in our own zone and overplay very mediocre centers in their place. I don't consider Bolland a third line centre btw.
@Coldincowtown Why in the blue fuck does two 3rd line centres cripple an entire team?? As soon as Bolland went down the team started to slowly fall apart. Bozak left and Carlyle can only seem to trust 1/3 of his roster. The Leafs are gonna be gassed by the time these guys come back and will be lucky to sneak into the playoffs. Then what???
@B_Leaf @Alec Brownscombe @Cloud09 that comment is ridiculous. He has been a good GM for a long time. He knows what he is doing, we are going through a brutal stretch of injuries to key players and ditto for suspensions. Nonis' real test will be how long a leash he gives Carlyle particularly if our overall play does not improve once we get healthy.
@B_Leaf @Cloud09 I'm not exactly on the "FIRE NONIS AND CARLYLE" train (not yet anyway.. still waiting to get healthy again and see how they do) but I agree with you 100% on Grabo. I think he loved being here and for the most part he played like it, but just didnt get along with the coach.
What sucks is that he's a good possession player that we could really use right now
@B_Leaf If Nonis is going the whole damn thing better get blown up!
@Alec Brownscombe Grabo was always good. Even when he sucked last year he still was good. Guy would go through a wall for this team. And people wonder why the Leafs look soft.
@B_Leaf I like to think Nonis knows what he is doing but his supporting cast sucks hard.
The thing with Grabs is they should have given him another year to see if he could get healthy. Guys like that just dont come around every day. I knew the day Nonis bought him out that things wouldn't go well for us. This may sound harsh, but Nonis should be fired. He won't be but this team will continue to spiral down. He doesn't know what he is doing.
That said, we're judging this at a time when Bozak and Bolland are hurt, who were chosen over Grabo. Easy to say. But Grabo has been good, and was and always will be a better player than Bozak.
@Tim Horton @happy_gilmour @Gilbey93 I know they are a business... did you get a chance to read the story about how much $$$ hit the Yankees take by not making the playoffs and why it makes sense for their payroll to be so high? would be interesting to do a similar story on the Leafs... I wonder how much revenue they miss out on playoff appearances...
The reason I said that was because Bernier was not very impressive with his stick while in LA, but still better than Quick. Love, love, love Quick and what he's done for the Kings. Still, I can't recall any goalie with worse stickhandling than Quick. He's good for a comically awful goal every few weeks.
@Staples He's done a couple of spectacular pokechecks. I'm not sure why but the Leafs netminders haven't spent a lot of time stickhandling this season.
Well, it's been good to chat with all of you. I'll probably check in tomorrow after the game, and maybe between periods. Here's to a good game and no injuries!
@Staples He's 21 games in now. Not an excuse that flies for me anymore, personally. He needs to step up.
@Staples Honestly, garbage. He's lost.
He's had bad puck luck around the net though, which would change the perception. I just mean in terms of his shift to shift play, he's really struggling to find his way.
@Staples We'll see if Carlyle embraces that run and gun and plays the right players.
Very likely, we'll have both Ranger and Fraser in the team over Morgan Rielly, and we will ice a shitty 4th line, which won't help our chances.
We do often play our system well, and the beauty is, even when we don't, we often still have a chance to win. Typically, however, we've had trouble against teams that go full run-and-gun against us because that's not what we practice and prepare for. I can still remember the last meeting between our sides, and it was an easy win for the Leafs because we didn't adapt to the speed and aggressiveness of your team. Don't get me wrong. Of course, I like the Kings' chances against just about any team, but I'm wary of your offensive skill.
@Staples I agree with Alec. Leafs have long-term injuries down the middle, Lupul has been out for extended periods, and the chemistry has been altered between absences due to injury and suspensions (Leafs account for 5 of the 23 suspensions handed out so far this year.) Plus an influx of new players has mixed it up a bit as well. It looks much of the time like no one is grasping the teams systems.
@Staples But your team plays hockey the right way. Ours doesn't. You'll see. We can look like the worst team in the league for 75% of the game sometimes. But we have some explosive offensive talent and great goaltending.
If the Leafs can accomplish that, it's not a bad result. The Kings showed just two seasons ago that any seed can win the Cup!
@Staples I like the team healthy. I think we could be a solid 5th place team healthy. The injuries struck a weak part of the roster already at center. We may plummet, but I think the best we can hope for is a dog fight for one of the low seeds in the playoffs.
What would you say is the long-term outlook for the team's chances to make the playoffs, especially when the team gets healthier?
@Staples The extent to which we spend spells in our own end and the quantity of shots Bernier and Reimer face may be unknown to you being a Kings fan - the Leafs have a winning record, but are literally historically bad in terms of shots against. They may set a record, in competition with the early millenium expansion Thrashers and early 90s expansion Sharks, in terms of shots against in a season, which is as far back as shot data goes.
Seriously, Carlyle may know the Kings a little, but he doesn't have his team playing anywhere CLOSE to how he had them playing last season. I think he's lost for answers at this point, honestly. And we're very banged up, and we can't catch a break from the League with the suspensions.
I'll be pleased if we're even competitive.