TORONTO – Bags are unpacked, skates are sharpened and jerseys have been hung. Tonight, the Toronto Marlies open their 7 game 2nd round series against the Chicago Wolves (AHL affiliate of the St. Louis Blues). Much like the Milwaukee Admirals were in round 1, the Wolves will be another challenge for a very dynamic Marlies squad.
- Powerplay: Spencer Abbott and Peter Holland are back and are both fully healthy. At the team’s practice on Thursday, they joined Carter Ashton to re-form the team’s top line. Abbott finished the season with 69 points in 64 games and was a key component of the Marlies powerplay all season long. Toronto managed without him in round #1 but the powerplay took a hit, going 3/19. While Steve Spott wasn’t necessarily disappointed with the success rate, he’s hoping that having Abbott back on the top unit will improve their odds.
- Goaltending: Drew MacIntyre has been stellar (what else is new right?) and he doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing down. Toronto and Chicago faced each other twice this year, and Garret Sparks, the native of Illinois, started both games going 1-1. The Marlies defence has been very strong this season but like any team, have their moments of weakness. Toronto should keep in mind that the long lay-off could have created some rust for MacIntyre but I’d be surprised if his strong play stooped.
- Gameplay: On Thursday, Steve Spott stressed the fact that his team can not get into a track-meet type of game. The Marlies do have speed but are a very strategic team. If Toronto want’s to win this series, avoiding a track-meet will be difficult but attainable. The Marlies aren’t the type of team to win the track-meet type battles. Keep to their game plan and they’ll do well.
Players to watch:
- Sam Carrick: Carrick has been on a roll since the final few games of the regular season. After battling a few injuries this season, the versatile forward was dominant in round 1 and doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Carrick tallied three goals over three games in Round 1 against the Admirals and leads the team in goals scored. He’s also 2nd on the team in SOG with 11
- Spencer Abbott: Abbott has been itching to get back into the game and doesn’t appear that he’s missed a beat since being cleared for contact earlier this week. It may take him a few shifts to get his stride back but rest assured he’ll be the dominant forward we saw all season long once he gets going.
- Peter Holland: When Holland is on, there’s very few team’s that can slow him down. The NHL caliber forward is also playing his 1st game of the post-season tonight and look for him to use his skill level as a big advantage over the Wolves defensive core.
- Split the season series with the Marlies 1-1.
- Chicago finished first in the Mid-West division and second overall in the Western Conference. Chicago and Rochester went the distance in round 1. The series was decided in Game 5 where the Americans fell 4-2.
- Goaltending has been a large part of their success and that’s thanks to Jake Allen. The AHL All-Star finished first in wins in the AHL with 33 but has been on a bit of a cold streak lately.
- Former Marlie, Keith Aucoin plays for Chicago.
- Another former Marlie, Christian Hanson is a member of the Wolves.
- Dimitri Jaskin leads the league the AHL in points entering Friday’s contest, 7 points in 5 games.