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.
Kyle Cicerella had quotes from Marlies players and coach.
“We’re going about our business the same way with Rochester,” said Eakins. “The only thing I spoke to them about was the fuel they’re putting in their body. I think it’s going to be a way more physical series and there will be a hell of a lot of travel.”
â€œTheyâ€™re probably the best team we saw in the last 20 games of the year,â€ said Eakins. â€œThey have big physical forwards and one thing different than Rochester is they have more offence to give.
â€œ(Clay) Wilson and (Brian) Connelly can put up a ton of points and they are big D-men who can play a shut-down game. I expect a six or seven game series and a few games to go extra long.â€
â€œPlayoff hockey is so tough to get offensive chances so I just try to put the puck on the net,â€ said the 24-year-old. â€œYou want to play hard, create space and be physical. Make them know that every time they touch the puck youâ€™re going to hit them. That will create scoring chances.â€
â€œJust getting that first one out of the way got my confidence back and that was key,â€ said Dâ€™Amigo, who registered a goal in all three games against the Americans. â€œWhen youâ€™re the guy that scores the game winners it feels good and you want to keep doing it. I just got to do the same things I did last series, taking the body out and things like that. Stuff I should have been doing all year.â€