Toronto Marlies vs. Texas Stars: Western Conference Final Preview

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Photo: Graig Abel

TORONTO – On Friday night, the Toronto Marlies will continue their quest for the 2014 Calder Cup as they drop the puck in game #1 of the Western Conference Final against the Texas Stars (8:30 p.m. EST start in Texas). The Marlies are an impressive 7-0 in the playoffs heading into Friday’s matchup, but things are about to get serious.

While the Milwaukee Admirals and the Chicago Wolves weren’t supposed to be ‘easy’ opponents, the Marlies made quick work of both. Toronto swept Milwaukee in three games and the Wolves in four, but it would be a shock if the same thing happened a third time. This series will be a true test for Toronto. The Marlies and Stars have a lot in common, which should make for an exciting series. Here’s what you need to know:

TEXAS STARS:

  • Finished 1st in the AHL with 106 points (48-18-3-7).
  • A high-scoring offensive team, the Stars tallied 274 goals for this season, second in the league behind the Binghamton Senators (276).
  • Travis Morin and Colton Sceviour led the Stars in scoring.  Morin finished 1st in the AHL in scoring with 32 goals and 88 points.
  • Split the season series with Toronto 2-2.  Maxim Fortunus and Chris Mueller were the Marlie killers during the season series.  Mueller registered 3G and 2A in the season series while Fortunus notched 2G & 3A.
  • The Marlies have outscored the Stars in the post season (4.3 goals/game to the Stars’ 3.66) and have allowed less goals against (2.11 GA/game to Toronto’s 1.57 GA/game) thus far.
  • Their head coach is Willie Desjardins – the man who is reportedly at the top of the list for the vacant Vancouver Canucks job.  At the 2010 World Junior’s, Spott was Desjardins’ assistant coach.
  • Very fast paced offence and a very disciplined game is how the Stars win.  Texas was the most disciplined team in the league, taking a total of 923 penalty minutes.
  • Blue chip goalie prospect Jack Campbell is out with an injury, so Christopher Nilstorp will get the call in the series.  Nilstrop is 5-1 in the playoffs with a .934 save percentage.

TORONTO MARLIES:

  • 7-0 in the playoffs.
  • Jerry D’Amigo leads the team with 12 points in 7 games.
  • The powerplay, which had struggled at times during the regular season, has looked pretty good in the post-season.  Toronto has converted on 9 of 36 man advantages (25%).
  • Drew MacIntyre once again gets the call for Toronto.  He started all four games versus the Stars during the regular season.
  • MacIntyre is riding a ridiculous .949 save percentage over his 7 playoff starts.
  • Spencer Abbott and Peter Holland have been dominant since their return and will need to play a big part in the series.
  • Andrew MacWilliam suffered an injury last round versus Chicago but is expected to be back in the lineup on Friday.

KEYS TO VICTORY:

  • The NHL-ready leaders of this Marlies team will need to elevate their games and find that next gear knowing the competition they’re up against.
  • Toronto can’t get too ahead of themselves if they want to win this series.  The Marlies have been the “underdog” all season long and are on quite a roll; if they can stay in that mindset, this is a winnable series.
  • The Marlies amassed more penalty minutes than any other playoff team by a large margin, while the Stars took the fewest and scored 82 powerplay goals in 76 games this season (25.2%, 1st in the AHL). Disciplined, structured, physical, hard-working Marlies hockey between the whistles will be required.
  • Head coach Will Desjardins: “They’re showing their experience. They know they can’t take a lot of penalties. It’s going to be a physical game. They like to be in your face.”
  • Dustin Jeffrey: “The Marlies are a little more physical than the teams we have played. We aren’t going to change though.”
  • More Desjardins on the Marlies: “Lots of concerns when you look at their team. They do lots of things well. They are balanced through their four lines and have defense that can jump up and score.”
Toronto Marlies vs Texas Stars
Toronto Marlies vs Texas Stars

 

  • leafsince93

    so let me understand this if you try to take a player’s head off u get 2 gms ( repeat offender to boot ), u take player’s knee out 7 gms by the worst perpetrator in the game. if you dare touch a ref or linesman, automatic 10 gms.. not condoning what that stooge carcillo did but why in the world would u held on to the stick and sweater of a player who is clearly agitated and is sent to go after Prust

  • TuckerWantsDougieForGM

    GO

  • Burtonboy

    TuckerWantsDougieForGM Marlies

  • MaxwellHowe

    Do the Stars play in Houston?

  • Burtonboy

    MaxwellHowe Austin I do believe

  • Burtonboy

    https://twitter.com/HackswithHaggs https://twitter.com/HackswithHaggs/status/469908861483515906
    Jim Benning: “We want to be a 4 line team. I don’t know what the “Boston model” is, to be honest w/you. We just tried to win every year”

    Another new GM talking about the need for speed and playing 4 lines . I hope to fuck your listening Randy

  • TuckerWantsDougieForGM

    Burtonboy MaxwellHowe Yup.  Cedar Park to be exact.  Just outside Austin.

  • Jmessih

    NEVER TRADE JVR!! What a legend, true team player!!https://twitter.com/JVReemer21 https://twitter.com/JVReemer21/status/469953289815990272
    Good luck to the Marlies who start the AHL ConferenceFinals tonight. Show your support next week when the series comes to the Ricoh coliseum

  • wendelsfist

    Burtonboy 30 teams trying to improve each year will result in a bunch of mediocre average teams.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Burtonboy MaxwellHowe  that’s 4 words pop.  you’re getting soft, or into your 5th bottle of Moosehead

  • Burtonboy

    MaxwellHowe Burtonboy Not fit to drink . Hate the stuff

  • MaxwellHowe

    Burtonboy MaxwellHowe  Alpine?  Keith’s? (that’s my beer)

  • Burtonboy

    MaxwellHowe Burtonboy Picaroons for me

  • MaxwellHowe

    Burtonboy MaxwellHowe  WTF?  I’ve been away from the maritimes for a long time

  • Rhaegar_

    Burtonboy The Boston model is drafting a Lucic, signing a Chara. In many ways, trying to imitate Boston is near-impossible. Lucic and Chara are one of a kind players. Getting them wasn’t an organizational mindset or plan. It was just lucky happenstance that worked out really, really well.

  • Burtonboy

    MaxwellHowe Burtonboy Its a local micro . Not well known but they are starting to expand.

  • Mcost61

    And Thomas /Rask was not bad either

  • Burtonboy

    Rhaegar_ Burtonboy Even Boston are talking about improving the’re speed up front especially . Listening to Neely the other day at a season end presser and he wouldn’t commit to bringing back Thorton when he was questioned on it . Even Boston see’s where the game is headed

  • Jmessih

    Burtonboy TuckerWantsDougieForGM GOOOOOOOOOOO

  • Rhaegar_

    Mcost61 Yea, for sure. But the elements of their team that separate them from other teams, are not really imitable. You can’t just expect to sign a 6 foot 9, 270 pound perennial Norris candidate that for some reason another organization under-values. You can spend years trying to draft a Lucic clone and turn up nothing. 

    When people talk about Boston, they’re usually talking about toughness to a certain degree, and it’s just not something that can be replicated.

  • Rhaegar_

    Burtonboy Rhaegar_ I wonder when the Leafs will figure it out.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Burtonboy MaxwellHowe  Quidi Vidi is the best local beer in Newfoundland.  That old stuff, Blue Star, Dominion, JOckey Club, India, were just awful

  • Burtonboy

    Rhaegar_ Burtonboy Got my fingers crossed the Shanny sees what happening

  • Burtonboy

    MaxwellHowe Burtonboy Jockey Club lol . I remember that stuff . My grandfather drank that. 1st time I ever got drunk was on Dominion . Got sick as a dog and could never drink it after . Never had a chance to try the Quidi Vidi stuff

  • 4evrblue

    MaxwellHowe Burtonboy  Blue Star and India aren’t bad. Black Horse is pretty good too

  • Burtonboy

    4evrblue MaxwellHowe Burtonboy Poney Piss

  • 4evrblue

    Burtonboy 4evrblue MaxwellHowe  Will happily let that pony piss in my face!!! lol

  • Burtonboy

    4evrblue Burtonboy MaxwellHowe Actually its not a bad beer .

  • Rhaegar_

    I’d like to see the Leaf sign Stastny and roll 4 real lines:

    J.V.R. – Stastny
    Bozak – Kessel
    Lupul – Kadri
    Bolland – Clarkson

    With Holland, Ashton, D’Amigo, Komarov, Hartikainen, Bodie and Leivo fighting to fill in the blanks. That would be setting prospects up for success, and would probably open up our top scorers to several soft shifts at even strength.

  • 4evrblue

    Burtonboy 4evrblue MaxwellHowe  It really isn’t. I haven’t had it in years but its alright. I think Dominion is the only beer I’ve ever drank that I couldn’t finish. Not sure how anybody drinks that stuff

  • Mcost61

    LA looks like a good model, fast and hard to play against, we need a pest. Komarov and a few Marlies would toughen this line up. Get the boys to backcheck,  and we are not far from a playoff team.

  • wendelsfist

    Rhaegar_ Burtonboy Penguins model is drafting crosby and malkin.  The chicago model is drafting kane, toews, keith and then signing hossa.

  • Burtonboy

    4evrblue Burtonboy MaxwellHowe I like Molson Ex and Labatts 50 . Fuckers took it off the market in Newfie so I had to go across the border to Fermont Quebec to get it

  • 4evrblue

    Burtonboy 4evrblue MaxwellHowe  I don’t think I’ve ever had either. I remember Molson 7 and Molson Ultra. 7% Alcohol. That stuff was great when I was a teen that just wanted to get drunk but didn’t have much money.

  • 4evrblue

    wendelsfist Rhaegar_ Burtonboy  Whats the Leafs model? Selling picks and prospects for 2nd liners?

  • Rhaegar_

    wendelsfist Rhaegar_ Burtonboy I would argue equally that attempting to mimic the Penguins is foolish. Expecting to draft two generational center talents back to back is ridiculously unlikely. 

    Chicago’s model is a good one to try and mimic though, in my opinion. It’s just that the key to their model working is often misunderstood. Obviously tanking and landing Toews and Kane was crucial, but the reason they have succeeded where others near the bottom year-after-year have failed is because when Toews and Kane arrived, they had already long ago drafted their supporting cast. 

    Conversely, most teams try to build around a star, like the Islanders around Tavares. But not Chicago. Their stars stepped onto a team that was just missing the final touches. They walked into a roster that included: Keith, Seabrook, Hjalmarsson, Sharp, Versteeg, Byfuglien, Ladd, Havlat, Kopecky, Bolland and so forth.  The Hawks built a team, then added the stars.

  • Burtonboy

    4evrblue Burtonboy MaxwellHowe That’s a few yrs back Blue . Been off the market in most provinces other then Quebec for a long time

  • Jmessih

    Who will be watching the Marlies game?

  • Mcost61

    No station gets it here where I live, I will have to find a stream if possible

  • wendelsfist

    Jmessih 1st period of the mem  game then I’ll see which is more entertaining

  • Jmessih

    wendelsfist Jmessih That is how I’m looking at it.

  • Jmessih

    Mcost61 I’ll find you links homie.

  • Mind Bomb

    Burtonboy  Exactly, you try to win every year, Tanking is for Pitsburgh

  • Mcost61

    Much obliged

  • deedrag

    Question for you all? Is it better to draft centers and then put them on the wing, if they can’t handle the pressure of being a true center? Or do we go with just trying to get a left winger, center, Right winger, etc, etc? The first option seems like it would give us more depth if we lose players to injury all around? What would be the pros and cons to this type of selection?

  • Jmessih

    deedrag So much easier to go from center to the wing than from the wing to the middle.

  • Jmessih

    Mcost61 Is GoT on this Sunday? Heard they are taking a week off?

  • Mcost61

    Komorov and Kulemin can play both. Not sure if we will have either though when the dust settles

  • T K O

    deedrag Pick the best player…if its a center and no spot move him to the wing…easier transition.

  • Mcost61

    Memorial Day weekend, Network feels movies will fare better than TV series this weekend…go figure