The penultimate weekend of the AHL season will see the Toronto Marlies play a three in three for the eighth and final time in 2015-16.

It will be the first time the Marlies have played a configuration of one home game followed by two on the road in what has been one of the better schedules as far as travel is concerned. Toronto’s record when playing “three in threes” through 2015-16 is 11-8-2.

Milestones could be in the offing should the Marlies have a successful weekend. One more victory would take them to a new franchise high for wins in a single season. It would also see Toronto clinch the North Division and the AHL regular season title.

Five points would give the Marlies 110 on the year, surpassing the 109 achieved in 2007-08 (80 games). A victory at home would be the 25th, while two wins in their final two road games would see Toronto finish with 28 away from Ricoh.

The Marlies are currently on a five game winning streak, two shy of their best this season, despite the in-flux roster. Available for selection this weekend are Viktor Loov, Nikita Soshnikov, Kasperi Kapanen — whose first year of his entry-level contract will slide to 2016-17 (9 NHL games) — and Rich Clune.

Signed to ATOs are forwards Mason Marchment, Chase Witala and Tyler Wong, while defenseman Andrew Nielsen will get his first taste of professional hockey since being drafted in the third round by the Leafs in 2015 and having his superlative junior breakout season with 70 points in 71 games in Lethbridge.

Unavailable to the Marlies for the rest of the season will be Alex Stalock, as Toronto has decided to go with Antoine Bibeau and Kasimir Kaskisuo before Garret Sparks returns — a decision that’s in line with the prioritization of youth and development over attempting to win games on the back of veterans.

Also not on the roster for the weekend is Sam Carrick, who is currently with the Leafs for their final game in New Jersey Saturday night.

Friday, April 8 — Lake Erie at Toronto, 7:00 pm EST

Toronto will entertain Lake Erie Friday night in the last of four meetings between the sides this season. The Marlies hold a 2-1 edge in the series so far, having dug out a 4-1 victory two weeks ago with a threadbare roster.

The Monsters are assured of a playoff berth, but they’re involved in a dogfight for positions and home ice advantage, currently tied for third place in the Western Conference with Grand Rapids, although Rockford and San Diego aren’t too far behind.

Like Toronto, Lake Erie are also on a five-game win streak, scoring 22 goals in the process. Powering their offense has been Daniel Zaar, currently on a four-game point streak, while T.J Tynan has five points in his last three games. Michael Chaput has three goals in as many goals and Sonny Milano who has four markers during the same stretch.

From the blue line, Steve Eminger has produced five point in his last three outings, including three goals.

Goaltender Anton Forsberg has won five of his last six and is be expected to take the start.

Saturday, April 9 — Toronto at Syracuse, 7:00 pm EST

The Marlies head to play Syracuse on Saturday to finish the season series. Toronto have dominated the series to the tune of 6-1-0, but that hasn’t really told the true tale of the tape. The baby buds won on three occasions in overtie, with six games essentially decided by a single goal.

The Crunch were on a five-game winning run until facing the Marlies last weekend. They then folded 5-1 to Rochester before responding by pumping Utica 7-3 on the road.

Tampa Bay’s affiliate are all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, needing a miracle of the largest kind to progress, and they are now shorn of two of their best players.
Jonathan Drouin and defensemen Matt Taormina have been recalled to Tampa and Syracuse have signed a couple of ATOs to fill gaps.

Matthew Peca is the hottest points producer on the team right now with one goal and nine assists in his last six games.

Yanni Gourde returned to practise after missing last weekend’s game. He was previously in good form, riding a five game point streak, and is someone they could really use in the absence of Drouin.

Kristers Gudlevskis has been the mainstay and the rock in net for the Crunch, but they may decide to give rookie Adam Wilcox a few more starts with the season now essentially over.
Gudlevskis has 15 wins this season, with six of those attained in his last seven starts.

Sunday, Apr 10 — Toronto at Albany, 3:00 pm EST

Although Toronto and Albany have been divisional rivals this season, it’s a shame that they haven’t met in battle more often. The Devils have provided a stern test all year and will finish second to the Marlies in the North Division as well as the Eastern Conference.

The Sunday matinee contest will be just the sixth time the teams have met this season. It’s sure to be another tight encounter, with four of the previous five decided by just a single goal.

Albany’s form of late has been around the .500 mark, but they are still a potent force on home ice having won 25 games this season.

Mike Sislo is still a big absence for the team, but a few other players have stepped up. The experienced Brian O’Neill is riding a four-game point streak, as is defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani. Gragnani scored his first goal of the season in the last outing, with his first 30 points of the season all assists.

Recently signed to an ELC by the New Jersey Devils, Nick Lappin joined Albany on an ATO.
The rookie has impressed by putting up three goals and two assists in five games, but he has battled injury in his short spell with the team.

Goaltender Scott Wedgwood has returned after a spell in the NHL and recorded a win in his penultimate start. In the last outing, Wedgewood was 47 minutes into a shutout before having to leave the game after taking a shot to the mask. Yann Danis came in for what turned out to be a combined shutout. After getting stitches above his right eye following the injury, Wedgewood’s status isn’t in doubt heading into the weekend.