The Toronto Marlies rode Drew MacIntyre and some opportunistic scoring to a 1-0 series lead in the Western Conference Final opener on Friday. It was a big win to grab no matter how perfectly it was executed, as the Stars hadn’t lost at home in the playoffs before the Marlies’ handed them a somewhat deceiving 5-1 defeat.
Playing more of their north-south game through neutral ice and generating offensive zone time on the cycle at even strength will have been a focus for Steve Spott’s team going into game two.
“There wasn’t a whole lot to like in terms of structure. We got off our game plan a little bit, we were opportunistic and found a way to win the game but we have to be better in all three zones. We’ve prided ourselves this year on playing the game the right way. We got into a track meet, that’s not what we want to get into.”
– Steve Spott
The Marlies still haven’t trailed for a second in these playoffs and have jumped out into early leads in almost every game. Their mere 12 goals against in the playoffs is remarkable –a testament to their commitment and sacrifice in clogging up the middle, out-of-his-mind goaltending from MacIntyre, and a penalty kill that is rolling at the right time — and their 35 goals for in 8 games equally so — there have been contributions from all over the lineup, as the Marlies have ten players with at least 6 points in 8 games, and their powerplay has found a higher gear in the playoffs.
The Baby Buds look to make it 9-0 in these playoffs and bring a commanding 2-0 series lead back to the Ricoh.
Brad Ross is expected to draw into his fourth playoff game tonight as Spott has been working a rotation on the fourth line wing.
Puck drop is at 8:30 p.m. EST.