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The Toronto Marlies are poised to announce the hiring of Steve Spott as head coach, replacing Dallas Eakins who departed for the Edmonton Oilers. While many candidates were rumored to be in the mix, it appears Spott gets the nod for his reputation as a developmental coach, something Eakins was well respected for, and certainly a top priority quality needed from the new bench boss.

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Thanks to MLHS user “JVR” for submitting the following report after taking in the Marlies’ final game of the season at the Ricoh last night:

I was (un)fortunate enough to be at the Ricoh Coliseum to watch the Marlies take on the Griffins in Game 6 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals.

Toronto got off to a good start, as Joe Colborne hit Carter Ashton with a pass in the neutral zone and he walked over the blueline, putting a wrist shot between Petr Mrazek’s legs 4 minutes and 15 seconds into the game.

Moments later, Drew MacIntyre made two huge saves to preserve the 1 goal lead, as a Griffin player beat Morgan Rielly wide.

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The Toronto Marlies look to continue their strong play of late (1st in the Western Conference) as they face-off against the slumping Hamilton Bulldogs. Toronto leads the season series 4-2 over Hamilton.

From Marlies.ca

The Toronto Marlies earned three out of a possible four points this past week. On Friday night in Michigan, the Marlies fell to the Grand Rapids Griffins, AHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings, by a score of 3-2 in a shootout. Will Acton and Matt Frattin recorded goals for Toronto in regulation and Ben Scrivens stopped 24 of 26 shots. The Griffins managed two goals in the shootout, while Joe Colborne registered the only tally for Toronto. Saturday night marked the second half of a back-to-back between the two teams. Toronto defeated Grand Rapids by a score of 3-1 at the Van Andel arena. Ryan Hamilton had his third multi-goal game of the season and Carter Ashton added the other tally for Toronto. Jussi Rynnas made 27 saves to earn his fifth victory of the year.

  • Head Coach Dallas Eakins will return to the AHL AllStar game for the second time in as many seasons. He was an assistant coach for Oklahoma City’s Todd Nelson last year
  • The Marlies have won 10 of their last 13 games and are currently on an eight game point streak
  • Paul Ranger ranks seventh (tie) in AHL plus/minus (+14)
  • Captain Ryan Hamilton ranks eighth (tie) in AHL goals (14). Hamilton has nine goals in his last 11 games
  • Keith Aucoin ranks sixth (tie) in AHL points (32) and second (tie) in AHL assists (25)
  • Mike Kostka ranks third in AHL powerplay assists (12)
  • Toronto has not lost back-to-back games since November 25

Toronto plays host to the Hamilton Bulldogs, AHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens, tonight at Ricoh Coliseum. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. Toronto has posted a record of 4-2-0-0 against Hamilton so far this season. Gabriel Dumont and Brendan Gallagher lead the Bulldogs in points with 18 in 31 games. On Saturday afternoon, Toronto will play host to the Rockford IceHogs, AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, at 3 p.m.

Martin St. Pierre leads the IceHogs in points with 30 in 33 games. Rockford currently ranks eighth in the Western Conference with 36 points.

In their last game of the week, the Marlies travel to Hamilton for a Tuesday night game with the Bulldogs. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. The game will mark the eighth of 12 meetings between the two teams this season.

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The Toronto Marlies (18-9-1) take on the Grand Rapids Griffins (17-9-1) 7pm on TSN 1050 and AHL Live. Depending on how the Charlotte Checkers fare tonight, the Marlies could move into first place in the West with a win.

Toronto is one of—if not the hottest team in the league the last 10 games (7-1-1-1), while Detroit’s AHL club is almost equally hot (7-3-0-0).

From Clayton Hansler:

Jussi Rynnas is expected to get the start in goal tonight. There may be some movement amongst the skaters, but firm lineups won’t be available until closer to game time.

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Dylan Yeo will cycle back into active duty replacing Paul Ranger for Saturday’s game marking only the fifth game missed by the Whitby born rear guard. Nicolas Deschamps also returns after sitting out on Friday, Kenny Ryan expected to sit in his place.

EXPECTED MARLIES LINEUP

IN GOAL: #40 Jussi Rynnas

FOWARD LINES
Hamilton – Aucoin – Abbott
Ashton – Colborne – Scott
D’Amigo – McKegg – Frattin
Ross – Acton – Deschamps

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Yeo – Kostka
Fraser – Holzer
Gysbers – Blacker

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And if you missed this pretty cool mic’d up video of Mike Kostka…

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On Saturday, I took in the Marlies 4-2 win against St. John’s with McKeen’s Hockey pro scouting coordinator Gus Katsaros. First off, he’s an excellent hockey guy who you should follow on Twitter @KatsHockey, if you aren’t already. More relevant to this piece, we discussed numerous Marlies and Leafs-related matters that I’ll go over here as points of discussion and analysis.

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Watching the Marlies this year partially feels like watching a clock turning its hands back. It was on the first day of training camp that a brand new name appeared on the roster. While roster changes aren’t exactly an AHL novelty, seeing Paul Ranger’s name on a hockey jersey makes one take a quick peek towards the calendar.

If you did turn back the hands of time, Ranger would be a 25-year-old defenseman playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning. With a promising career ahead of him, he suddenly left the game many of us would pay to play. Personal reasons or a different motive entirely, it wasn’t quite clear why he left hockey only to find him himself coaching his hometown’s bantam team in Whitby, Ontario.

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Toronto Marlies vs Abbotsford Heat

The Abbotsford Heat (13-4-3-2), the top team in the AHL, came into town to face off with one of the hottest teams in the AHL, the Toronto Marlies (13-8-0-1). The Marlies played and won their last game less than 24hrs ago against the Rochester Americans and entered this game on the strength of a four-game winning streak and great play at home (7-1-0-1).

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Courtesy of the Marlies:

Last Week:

The Toronto Marlies earned six points this past weekend in three games against divisional opponents.
On Friday, Toronto travelled to Rochester where they defeated the Amerks by a score of 4-1. Matt Frattin recorded two goals and Ben Scrivens stopped 28 of 29 shots to earn the victory.

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. The American Hockey League announced today that Toronto Marlies center Nazem Kadri has been selected as the CCM/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending Nov. 18, 2012.

Kadri tallied eight points (one goal, seven assists) and a plus-3 rating in four games last week, sparking the Marlies to a 3-1-0-0 record.

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The now-surging Marlies finish up their eight-game road trip tonight in Hamilton before returning for the back half of the home and home against the Bulldogs tomorrow at the Ricoh (tickets). The Marlies finish up the weekend by hosting Abbotsford on Sunday (tickets).

The big news in Marlie land today is that of Matt Frattin’s return to the lineup after an off-season of rehab following knee surgery. Don’t expect immediate dividends, but Frattin made a mockery of AHL goaltenders in the Marlies Calder Cup run to the tune of 10 goals, his tenth being the play that ended his 2011-12 season. It’s a welcomed addition and a rare case of a player benefiting from this lockout situation – he’ll have time to get his game back in shape before someone else can take his spot on the Leafs.

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Toronto Marlies

The Toronto Marlies defeated the Oklahoma City Barons 6-5 in what was a wild, high-scoring affair.

Toronto Marlies vs Oklahoma City Baron’s Highlights

Nicolas Deschamps Goal

Kenny Ryan Goal

Greg Scott Goal

Jake Gardiner OT Winner

Mike Zigomanis Goal

Korbinian Holzer’s Huge Hit

Jake Gardiner Interview


For a more detailed account, here is a live blog transcript from the Edmonton Journal.

First Period

9:37 – That didn’t take long. 1-0 Marlies on a soft goal on Roy. The Barons’ defenceman (didn’t see who it was for sure) couldn’t get over to cut off the Marlies’ Will Acton, and he fired a hard shot from the far side of the left wing that squeezed between Roy’s arm and body.

9:39 – No replay on the goal, so I’ll try to go back and look at it at the intermission.

9:45 - Magnus Paajarvi drew a penalty with some good work in the corner, and this first power play shift has been a shooting gallery; no goals yet but Hall and Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins keep getting shots from good areas.

9:47 – No goal on the power play. Nelson went right to the fourth line for the shift after the man advantage ended – with veteran Dane Byers alongside defensive forwards Chris VandeVelde and Tanner House, this seems to be his preferred line for defensive matchups when an opportunity (own zone draws late in the third, after power plays, etc.) arises. They’ve had a strong game so far and do a nice job covering the Kadri line.

9:50 – Hybrid icing call on a long Teubert dump. I really like this rule – it makes the game go by quicker (it eliminates all those long skates back to the red line) and removes those ugly plays where everybody knows one guy will get there first so the other guy just goes for a hard hit on a player in a vulnerable spot. A faster game, less injury risk, and they don’t blow the whistle when the other team can negate the icing. This is an excellent rule change.

9:52 – Marincin takes a nice shot at point blank range off a nice setup by Chris VandeVelde.

9:54 – Magnus Paajarvi generates all sorts of trouble on a 2-on-2 rush, going wide around the Marlies defender and then cutting in; he’s an ice fit with Hartikainen because even though Paajarvi’s initial shot was weak Hartikainen’s presence in the crease made it exponentially more dangerous. Hartikainen with a nice chance off the rebound too, which Rynnas was equal too.

9:54 – Nugent-Hopkins rings a shot off the post.

9:56 – Mark Arcobello bails out Alex Plante. Plante had two strides on the forechecking Marlies forward racing for a loose puck, but got beat; Arcobello came in and turned the 1-on-1 battle into a 2-on-1, which got the puck moving the other way.

9:59 – Entering the offensive zone, Chris VandeVelde flipped the puck high and over to Tanner House. Even though it was a difficult pass to intercept, Nazem Kadri (impressively) batted it out of the air and went the other way. Without missing a beat, VandeVelde wheeled and caught up with him by center ice, pinning him against the boards and preventing a rush the other way. A small play, to be sure, but impressive hand/eye coordination by Kadri and a very nice recovery for VandeVelde.

10:02 – The Marlies’ Aucoin snuck behind the Schultz/Marincin pairing and received a breakout pass, but Schultz wheeled back and cut him off before anything could happen. A good play for Schultz, who I think was the defenceman who misplayed Aucoin on the first goal.

10:03 – Teubert’s stick breaks, and chaos ensues around the crease. It’s now 2-0 Marlies on the play. As with the first goal, I believe I caught what happened but I’ll wait until the end of the period to confirm.

10:04 – A hard shot from the slot off a weird bounce beats Roy cleanly. That will do it for Roy, who had a clear look at the shot and really should have had it. 3-0 Marlies.

10:05 – This is turning into a rout. There was a long shot from the point that Danis kicked out, but the defence failed to adequately cover the crease and a Marlies forward scored from point blank range. 4-0 Marlies.

10:07 – Jake Gardiner rushes in on left wing and Colten Teubert can’t keep up, so he goes for the bear hug. The Marlies head to the power play.

10:08 – That’s it for the first. Now I’ll try and get replays and more detailed descriptions of the scoring plays.

10:09 – Eberle calls the first period “embarrassing,” and says the Barons are “getting beat all over the ice.”

10:15 – Reviewing the 1-0 goal. All three Barons forwards (Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins and Hall) were trapped deep as the play started back toward the Barons zone; this left Justin Schultz and Martin Marincin facing a 3-on-2 rush. Nugent-Hopkins got back to the zone in time to do something but floated ineffectually rather than picking a check. Schultz cheated to the middle to handle the puck carrier and gave Will Acton lots of room on his side of the ice, and then couldn’t get back in time to prevent a good shot. Roy should have had it – it was a shot from a good area, but it wasn’t especially hard or fast and he had a clear look, but there was lots of blame to go around on the play.

10:20 – Reviewing the 2-0 goal. This was just an ugly, ugly sequence as the Barons’ NHL line was thoroughly outworked for the entire shift leading up to the goal. On the goal itself, Colten Teubert got caught running around a bit, but then took Paul Ranger behind the net, which should have been fine because three Barons – Taylor Fedun, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – were clustered in the crease area versus just two Marlies. Fedun took his man away at the side of the net, but Nugent-Hopkins and Hall watched from the crease area as a totally ignored Nicolas Deschamps took the Ranger pass and scored from right in front of Roy. No chance for the goaltender here; this one is on the forwards (and to a lesser extent Teubert).

10:24 – Reviewing the 3-0 goal. This one is on Curtis Hamilton. Alex Plante lumbered around ineffectively – Mark Arcobello beat him to a loose puck at the back of the net and played it up to Hamilton, who had time to do something with the puck. Instead, Hamilton allowed the puck to be taken off his stick by Kenny Ryan, Plante closed the gap with Ryan too slowly to be able to do anything, and Ryan beat Roy cleanly. Roy had a good look at the shot, but it’s hard to put a lot of blame on him for that one.

10:30 – Reviewing the 4-0 goal. This essentially comes about after Justin Schultz is left in a 2-on-1 situation in front of the crease. Martin Marincin and Chris VandeVelde were both patrolling the area right in front of Yann Danis moments earlier, where they bumped into each other accidentally. Both responded to the bump by moving away from the net and into the slot. Schultz took Joe Colborne right in front of the net (Schultz has shifted to the left side of the net here, though he’s the right side defenceman, because he’s the only guy back for the Barons), but that left Greg Scott alone almost n the blue paint; when the point shot crept through there was nothing anybody could do to stop him. Schultz was tied up with Colborne; both Marincin and VandeVelde had been pulled forward when the puck went to the point. Danis is pretty much blameless on the play, Schultz deserves some fire for committing to Colborne with nobody else around, but Marincin gets most of the blame for leaving his position to wander around aimlessly. The bump with VandeVelde seemed to throw him and VandeVelde is far from perfect here, but Marincin getting sucked into no-man’s land is the biggest problem.

Second Period

10:33 – Nugent-Hopkins stopped on a backhand shot; I still don’t know how that didn’t go in. It was a bit of a sloppy shift for the Oilers line but they created a glorious opportunity off a broken play there.

10:35 – Yann Danis stops Joe Colborne at point blank range; Colborne snuck in behind Plante and Danis was forced to make a great save.

10:36 – Justin Schultz with a nice pokecheck on a Kenny Ryan rush; Ryan fell flat on his backside and the puck went out of danger.

10:38 – Teemu Hartikainen draws a tripping penalty with a partial break where he bulled toward the middle of the ice.

10:40 – A great shot by Schultz leads to a rebound; Jordan Eberle skates in tight with the puck but Rynnas manages to stop him. Once again, the Oklahoma power play looks great but they aren’t quite able to score.

10:46 – 3-on-2 rush for Toronto. Marincin made a great play to knock the puck away, but the trailer picked it up and got a good shot anyway. Marincin didn’t like the way the Marlies rushed the net after Danis made the save, and took a penalty for going after one Marlies forward (didn’t catch the number).

10:48 – The Barons are out shooting Toronto 18-13 heading into this penalty kill.

10:52 – Magnus Paajarvi just playing keep away in a now 4-on-4 situation. Goes for a skate here, a skate there, doesn’t allow the Marlies the puck but doesn’t do much with the possession either.

10:56 – A little bit of revenge for the Barons’ NHL line. A gorgeous passing play on the power play makes it 4-1 Marlies.

10:56 – Hall finished the play off; primary assists go to Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle. The nicest goal of the morning.

11:02 – That was a much better second period, although there were some ugly moments. The game is now 4-1 Marlies. Things seem heated between the teams – I’m not sure if it’s a product of the score (guys like Hall are involved in hostilities) or last year’s playoffs.

11:06 – Reviewing the 4-1 goal. Just nice puck movement all the way around; Ryan Nugent-Hopkins made the final pass to a streaking Hall in front of the net and Hall just touched the puck home for a goal. Whatever else can be said about the NHL kids in this game, they’ve been superb on the power play.

Third Period

11:23 – Some faceoff statistics, courtesy of the Barons play-by-play crew: Chris VandeVelde has gone 6-for-9, Nugent-Hopkins 4-for-9, Arcobello 9-for-14 and Lander 7-for-11.

11:24 – Tyler Pitlick with a nice rush down the left wing; it was a solid play and he blew by Paul Ranger but he couldn’t quite cut into the middle for a scoring chance. He did manage to draw a penalty, though.

11:26 – A weird start to the power play; the Barons couldn’t gain the zone and seemed out of sync in their own end. Ultimately the puck wobbled into the offensive zone and goaltender Jussi Rynnas came way, way, way out of his net to freeze it.

11:28 – Mark Arcobello with a goal to make it 4-2 with just a second left on the power play. Tyler Pitlick made a nice pass to Martin Marincin on the side boards; Marincin took a hard shot and Arcobello was in place to put the rebound home.

11:29 – Marincin took three shots in maybe thirty seconds to close out the power play there, all of them good shots to take. It will be interesting to see what he can do running the first unit once Schultz is promoted to the NHL.

11:31 – Odd play. Nugent-Hopkins loses the draw (just outside the blue line) cleanly to Acton, who wins it back to the defenceman Mike Kostka, who promptly ices it.

11:32 – The Barons are going on the penalty kill. Taylor Hall got his stick in Joe Colborne’s skates as the latter attempted to exit his own end with the puck, resulting in a tripping minor.

11:34 – 5-2 Marlies. A point shot on the power play was tipped in front of the net; not much else to say about that one.

11:37 – Lander with a quick stick to break up a hard pass. Lander’s line is the only one that hasn’t been scored against today.

11:40 – Hall is frustrated. He tried to split the Paul Ranger/Dylan Yeo pairing and couldn’t quite do it; he ended up on his back. As he got back up he punched at Ranger. No penalty on the play, but the frustration was obvious.

11:42 – Another scrum in front of the net, as the line of Paajarvi, Lander and Hartikainen mix it up yet again. They’ve easily been that Barons’ best even-strength line on the game.

11:43 – Great pass from Nugent-Hopkins to Eberle; Eberle fired the puck quickly and it went off first goaltender Jussi Rynnas and then the crossbar before heading over the glass.

11:48 – The Barons were headed to the power play, and with the goalie pulled for the extra man defenceman Jordan Henry tried to carry the puck into the Marlies zone. As he pulled up to the blue line, Marlies rearguard Korbinian Holzer hammered Henry with a hip check; Henry went down and stayed down for a minute. Predictably a scrum ensued, as Dane Byers went after Holzer immediately. Henry looks okay; it was a big, tough, clean check by Holzer.

11:50 – Barons power play results. It looks like Mike Zigomanis took the initial minor, and that Byers and Mark Fraser will both be penalized. Interestingly Byers is sitting in the box, but it seems that Fraser has been ejected from the game.

11:51 – Byers and Fraser both got roughing minors and 10 minute misconducts.

11:52 – Carter Ashton, killing the penalty, takes a hooking minor. Lengthy 5-on-3 coming up.

11:53 – Eberle robbed at the side of the net by Jussi Rynnas; the 5-on-3 is nearly over.

11:54 – Rynnas tried to head to create a break by asking for water prior to the Marlies’ defensive zone draw; a little transparent perhaps but the sort of thing that needs to be tried.

11:54 – Another 5-on-3. The Marlies take a bench minor; it isn’t clear why but the commentators are guessing that Dallas Eakins is getting it for yapping at the referees. Apparently Eakins has been tossed from the game.

11:55 – It looked like Nugent-Hopkins had just scored; it will probably be reviewed but the referee waved it off immediately.

11:57 – 3:16 left in the game, and the Barons have a two-man advantage for almost a full minute yet. The Nugent-Hopkins shot is till under review; the AHL live feed has yet to supply a replay. The Nugent-Hopkins shot is ruled a goal, making it 5-3 and giving the Barons a 5-on-4 power play.

11:58 – The Nugent-Hopkins goal was a nice shot from the side of the net with the 5-on-3 advantage; it must have just squeaked across the line.

12:00 – The Barons pull their goalie and score on the 6-on-4 advantage. They shave enough time to tie this game. Eberle tallied his seventh of the year with a hard low shot through a crowd.

12:02 – 5-5! With the goalie pulled the Barons score again, with Nugent-Hopkins slapping the puck over the line on a broken play.

12:06 – A deflected shot goes high and catches Paul Ranger, who is lying on the ice and in some difficulty. The score is still 5-5; overtime coming up.

Overtime

12:10 – Back and forth here in the extra frame, but no great chances so far.

12:12 – Shout-out to the Cult of Hockey on the Barons’ official feed. Right now they’re reveling in the fact that colour guy Doug Sauter’s prediction – that Toronto might blow this 4-0 lead – turned out to be true. Absolutely need to enjoy that kind of prediction!

12:13 – Barons on the 4-on-3 penalty kill now. VandeVelde, House and Teubert out for Oklahoma.

12:15 – Danis makes a big save after Colten Teubert failed to clear the puck; finally the penalty killers get a break.

12:16 – Lander gets a quick cameo, and then Nelson goes right back to VandeVelde and House.

12:17 – Jake Gardiner scores moments after the penalty to Alex Plante (hooking) expires; the Marlies walk away with a 6-5 win despite blowing a 5-2 lead in just over three minutes in the third period.

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HPYNSV7PVW2B
Where it’s been positive information overall coming out of the CHL when it comes to Leafs prospects, the same can’t be said for the NHL hopefuls currently plying their trade with the Marlies one month into the AHL season.

While the Marlies came back in resounding fashion last night, finally finding some offense to the tune of four third period goals, it was no thanks to the prospects we were hoping to take the next step or at least challenge for it in Joe Colborne, Nazem Kadri, or Ben Scrivens (no disrespect to Carter Ashton, who it was nice to see make an impact last night).

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Photo: Marlies.ca

It was met with a lot of skepticism when the St. John’s Maple Leafs were relocated to Toronto in 2005.  Seven years later, the move just continues to look better and better.

The Leafs’ AHL affiliate had excellent attendance numbers and were highly popular in St. John’s during their time there. The move was a result of the Leafs’ desire to reduce travel costs and fill the Ricoh. While the attendance was terrible for the Marlies’ first few years of existence – including a low point when barely 2800 people showed up for their first ever home playoff game in 2006 – the team is finally establishing a presence in the city. As the lockout drags on, many Toronto hockey fans are now turning their attention to the Marlies and even taking in a game or two if possible.

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Photo: Marlies.ca
The Marlies bounced back as well as you could have hoped last night against Hamilton with a 5-0 win. An early goal for Greg McKegg, evidence good things can happen in the offensive zone after the Marlies pumped 84 shots and only mustered one goal the last two games, seemed to be the necessary positive bounce to get the team settled and clicking again. From there, two players patiently awaiting game action in Jussi Rynnas and Kenny Ryan headlined the show in their season debuts with the former playing his way to a shutout and the latter potting two goals. Nicolas Deschamps and Mike Kostka rounded out the scoring.

The Marlies play their third game in under 72 hours this afternoon at 3 p.m. against the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Griffins are 1-4 this season but do have the benefit of a night’s rest between today and their last game. You can catch the game on Leafs TV.

Consider this your game thread. Anthony Petrielli will have a much more in depth look at the three games this weekend in tomorrow’s notebook. Last night’s Game in Six is after the jump.

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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.

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Photo: Marlies.ca

Let’s move on from the depressing CBA talk to the Marlies, whose league isn’t locked out and who play three games in three nights this weekend against Hamilton (B2B) and Grand Rapids. Unfortunately tonight’s game hasn’t been picked up by any of Leafs TV, Sportsnet or TSN Radio, but you can buy a stream to the game over at AHL live for $7, listen in on am820 Hamilton starting at 7:30 p.m., or there’s always the option of following along on Twitter. Sportsnet One is showing tomorrow’s game, Leafs TV has Sunday’s and both will be broadcast on TSN Radio.

We got some good news today on the Matt Frattin front. According to Jon Abbott, he skated in full gear this morning at the Ricoh before the team departed for Hamilton for their first of 12 meetings with the Bulldogs.