I wanted to start this question and answer blog by addressing some debate that came about in my previous post.
I'm sure many of you remember the top-six bottom-six article detailing the Leafs roster and where players currently fit in (read itÂ here). A lot of people messaged me on Twitter or wrote on the board here in response to Grabovski being the shutdown center and I want to respond to that with a really simple answer.
Simply put, I didn't build this team.
This isn't my roster and we all know that. I simply took the information at hand and applied it as best I could. How Carlyle and Burke have combined to formulate their roster is pretty specific. I tried to root that in evidence and express that to all of you. After that, I used my own opinion to slot players into specific roles. The only debate to be had was whether Grabovski, Bozak or Steckel (or Connolly/Lombardi) were best suited for that role. If either Bozak or Steckel become the Leafs shutdown center, well, it's going to be one interesting season. Does that mean Grabovski will be the shutdown center once training camp begins? No. It just means he's currently the best option on the roster. [more…]
There are two lines of thinking when it comes to the Toronto Marlies.
One: Let's just enjoy the ride, a team in Toronto is finally winning.
Two: How does this translate to the Leafs? (Which then shoots off into a million different opinions of how this helps, if this even matters, and so on).
Frankly, we won't be able to answer that until, at minimum, next season. Although it will probably take longer than that though for us to fully understand the significance, or insignificance, of this run.
I've already written out the players to focus on as potential future pillars to the Leafs organization so you can focus on them if you're looking towards next year.
If you're just enjoying the run? Sit back, relax, and if you're able to attend a game this round, by all means do so. The Marlies and Barons split their season series one regulation win apiece. Ben Scrivens played against Oklahoma once and got a shutout (Owuya lost against OKC earlier in the year), but really there's not much we can take away from two measly games in the regular season that happened in November and at the beginning of January. [more…]
Toronto Marlies 3, Abbotsford Heat 2 - Marlies take series 4-1
The Toronto Marlies continue their playoff march towards the Calder Cup finals after disposing of the Abbotsford Heat in overtime of game 5 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals. Despite not playing a great game, it was good enough to get them the victory. Abbostford were the moreÂ desperateÂ of the two teams and it showedâ€”Toronto was down 2-0 during the first period and being outplayed, for the most part.
In the 2nd and 3rd period, The Marlies slowly started to chip away at Abbotsford, and ultimately, it was a game that came down to special teams. The Marlies league leading penalty kill and improving powerplay were too much to for Abbotsford to handle. [more…]
The Toronto Marlies have a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Semi-finals and look to deliver a "kill shot" to a team that had their number at the end of the regular season tonight in Abbotsford. The Marlies started the series well in game 1, but had a tough time beating Abbotsford's goaltender, Danny Taylor. Once the Marlies were able to crack Taylor, The Marlies have had a relatively easy time with the Heat in this series, easily picking apart a team that plays a very heavy trap system. Ben Scrivens has been the talk of this series and has played exceptionally well.
Line up notes
Jesse Blacker is back in the lineup, replacing Matt Lashoff. On forward, David Broll is out, Kelsey Wilson is replacing him. Joe Colborne is still out with a bad finger injury to his middle finger.
Abbotsford Heat's top regular season and playoff producers, Kris Kolanos, is back in after being a health scratch over 'internal issues'. That could be an interesting story to follow. [more…]
The Marlies took a 2-1 lead in their Western Conference semifinals series with a 4-1 win over Abbotsford in Game 3 last night. Like their 5-1 Game 2 victory on Thursday, scoring depth, strong play from Ben Scrivens and an unbelievably good penalty kill keyed the Marlies' success. Scrivens has stopped 57 of his last 59 shots while the Marlies penalty kill has gone a perfect 16 for 16 in the series (and 27 for 28/96.4% in playoffs).
Nazem Kadri and Matt Frattin, playing on the top line together alongside Jerry D'Amigo, are leading the way for the Marlies offensively in the series. Frattin has his third goal in as many games against Abbotsford while Kadri has two goals of his own along with two helpers in three games. Frattin's shot is on target at the moment, finding accuracy with his powerful release, and he's bringing a physical game in the process; promising signs from the first-year pro. Kadri was dangerous from puck drop - literally - as on the first shift Kadri went out and caught the Abbotsford D and goaltender Leland Irving napping with a wrap around. A key goal from Kadri as Abbotsford again could not find a way to get themselves back even once they fell behind. [more…]
The Marlies look to take the 2-1 edge in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series tonight in Abbotsford. The game can be caught live on Leafs TV andÂ will also be broadcasted on SiriusXM Satellite Radio on NHL Home Ice.
The Marlies showed off their speed and matched Abbotsford's physicality much better on Thursday, and will look to do the same without taking as many penalties. Fortunately the Marlies PK has continued its league best form into the playoffs, even improving up to over 95%, and short handedÂ situationsÂ seem to actually be providing the Marlies with the momentum, not the opposition. That's not to say the Marlies would be smart to take another nine penalties tonight, it's merely a testament to how effective their aggressive high-pressure penalty killing has been.
Abbotsford looked like a much different team once they were behind the eight ball coming out of the first. It forced the Heat to come out of their defensive shell, and the Marlies managed to pad the lead further as a result. On the road a good start is made that much more pivotal. [more…]
For the first time in these playoffs, the Toronto Marlies lost a game.
Okay they've only played four, so it's not a big deal. And if you asked the Marlies last night, they didn't see it as too big of a deal either, yet.
The general sentiment echoed throughout those who spoke after the game (Eakins, Frattin, Gardiner, to name a few), was that yeah they lost, but that the chances were there for them to win the game and they really only made a few mistakes which unfortunately led to Abbotsford goals.
Jerry D'Amigo and Ryan Hamilton both missed tremendous scoring opportunities in the slot in the third period and the team in general was swarming inside the Heat's zone for pretty well the entire third period. But Heat goalie Danny Taylor really played well and shut the door.
It's one game and from the Marlies view, they outplayed them but just couldn't bury. From the Heat's view? They probably didn't play their best but still found a way to win. We'll see where this goes next. [more…]
Game 1 of the AHL Western Conference semifinals kicks off this evening with a well rested Toronto Marlies taking on the Abbotsford Heat. With the Marlies fresh off a sweep of division rivals, the Rochester Americans, they will need all the rest they can get. Should the series go beyond 5 games, both teams will have traveled across the country 3 times between Ontario and British Columbia. The series will be a 2-3-2 setup, with the Marlies having home ice advantage.
The Marlies went 2-1-1 against the Heat this season, but the Heat have won the teamâ€™s two most recent meetings.
But Toronto Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins says he won't make too many changes to the team's gameplan. [more…]
The Marlies found out their second round opponent for the Western Conference semifinals last night after the San Antonio Rampage upset the Chicago Wolves 3-2 in their quarterfinal series. First-placed Oklahoma City will play the sixth-seeded Rampage while the Marlies have drawn the fourth-placed Abbotsford Heat, who also swept their first round series over Milwaukee. Game 1 goes Tuesday, May 1st at the Ricoh Coliseum. The Marlies went 2-1-1 against the Heat this season, but the Heat have won the team's two most recent meetings. Abbotsford is currently riding a 10-game winning streak, with goaltender Danny Taylor winning his last eight. The playoff format now shifts to best-of-seven for the semifinals onwards.
The announcement and full second round schedule from the Marlies:
A proud member of the American Hockey League, the Toronto Marlies announced today that they will play the Abbotsford Heat, AHL affiliate of the Calgary Flames, in their second round best-of-seven Calder Cup Playoff series. Abbotsford finished second in the West Division and fourth in the Western Conference with 92 points. The Marlies posted a record of 2-1-1-0 against the Heat during the 2011/12 regular season.
Toronto will play host to games one, two, six, and seven at Ricoh Coliseum. The following are the confirmed dates and times for the series (all times eastern):
Game 1 â€“ Tuesday, May 1st: Abbotsford at Toronto 7:00 p.m. (Rogers TV â€“ Cable 10/63, AM 640)
Game 2 â€“ Thursday, May 3rd: Abbotsford at Toronto 7:00 p.m. (Rogers TV â€“ Cable 10/63, AM 640)
Game 3 â€“ Saturday, May 5th: Toronto at Abbotsford 10:00 p.m. (AM 640)
Game 4 â€“ Tuesday, May 8th: Toronto at Abbotsford 10:00 p.m. (AM 640)
*Game 5 â€“ Wednesday, May 9th: Toronto at Abbotsford 10:00 p.m. (AM 640)
*Game 6 â€“ Saturday, May 12th: Abbotsford at Toronto 3:00 p.m. (Rogers TV â€“ Cable 10/63, AM 640)
*Game 7 â€“ Sunday, May 13th: Abbotsford at Toronto 3:00 p.m. (Rogers TV â€“ Cable 10/63, AM 640)
Second round playoff tickets are on sale now, call the teamâ€™s ticket line at 416-597-PUCK (7825) or visit marlies.ca to get yours today.
For the first time ever, the Toronto Marlies have swept a playoff opponent.
Give the players and coaching staff full credit, too. Sometimes when a team mounts a big lead in a series it rests on its laurels, relaxes a little, and takes the pedal off the gas just a tad, enough for the opposition to maybe take a game or two. But the Marlies came out like a team who had no interest in playing any more games than they had to against Rochester. They clearly wanted to end the series last night and were very business like in their efforts to do so.
Here are some notes from the game, which I watched online via AHL Live.
- With Carter Ashton hurt, Jerry D'Amigo was bumped up to the second line to play with Joe Colborne and Matt Frattin, while Marcel Mueller slotted in D'Amigo's old spot with Nicholas Deschamps and Phillippe Dupuis. Otherwise, the rest of the roster remained the same as it has for the first two games. [more…]
Leafs fans are showing heightened interest in the Marlies lately, and deservedly so as they have officially begun their run for the Calder Cup. While AHL success in the playoffs is always a fantastic experience for any player - especially young ones - fans of Toronto hockey at the end of the day are asking themselves one thing: How does this help the Toronto Maple Leafs?
Earlier in the year, I wrote a piece looking at Calder Cup Finalists translation to NHL success. That leads into the current edition of the Marlies as we look at who on this team is being counted on to help the Leafs moving forward and which players are likely to become productive NHLers and part of the long-term solution here.
Now, I want to stress that there is a difference between a long-term NHLer, and a fringe AHL-NHL tweener. A player like Darryl Boyce is an AHL-NHL tweener, meaning he's a very good American league player, but struggles to get into a National league lineup consistently. Usually players that struggle to translate their games are missing one key ingredient that they can get away with in the AHL, but not the NHL - Be that a lack of speed, size, vision, strength, shooting ability, defensive ability, and so on.
So, inevitably, when someone says "where is Greg Scott," well, Greg Scott brings a lot to the table, and hey, he could potentially make the Leafs as their 12th or 13th forward, but he is not a long-term solution to anything for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Thus, when we are looking at the players below, we aren't just looking at players who may or may not crack the Leafs next season, we are looking at players who are being counted on to be contributing Toronto Maple Leafs for years to come in the ongoing quest to make the playoffs. [more…]
It was another 4-3 game in which the Marlies gave up a two goal lead and Jerry D'Amigo scored twice, including the game winner in the final minutes. In many respects it was like watching the same game as Thursday night's. Did we mention that Zigomanis scored and Foligno, Verone and Brennan were the same Rochester goal scorers from Game 1? All that matters from the Marlie perspective is that it was the same result and they now hold a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
An announced sell out crowd of towel wavers provided a good atmosphere, particularly in the final moments following the D'Amigo winner. Onto the notes:
-For whatever reason the Marlies have let up on those - cliched, but true - always dangerous two-goal leads, but you can tell when it comes down to it, and when the Marlies need to score the next goal, they seem to believe in the game plan and that they're capable of pulling it out. Winning a game despite giving up a two goal lead - and giving up leads in the third on both occasions - is not as easy as the Marlies have made it look the last two games. That type of resilience and abiding belief in their abilities should help take them deep in these playoffs. [more…]