Toronto Marlies (1-3) vs. Hershey Bears (3-1):
Game 5, Eastern Conference Final Best-of-Seven Series
Puck drop: 3:00 p.m. EST | Watch: TSN2 | Listen: TSN1050
More of the same from Game 4 is needed for the Toronto Marlies in Game 5.
The Marlies have begun the slow climb back up the mountain in the series, but one shift at a time, starting with the first, is the kind of focus required to take the series back to Hershey and beyond.
The offense has to remain hot after netting five times, while continuing to play a structured game. Not only did Toronto finally find their shooting boots against Hershey, they also restricted the Bears to few scoring chances and 18 shots in total during game four. There’s little doubting that Washington’s affiliate will come hard out the gates after Friday’s subpar effort, and Toronto have to be ready for that from the get-go.
Sheldon Keefe shook up proceedings by dressing seven defenseman in game four, and may well go that way again this aft. The double-shifting William Nylander was a standout performer Friday night and Toronto require more of the same from him.
Justin Johnson took part in the pregame skate Friday evening and certainly made himself known to a few Bears players, although the prospect of him seeing game time appears remote. Kasperi Kapanen did not return to the ice after taking an elbow to the head but will play this afternoon.
Antoine Bibeau is a lock to retain the net, and the Marlies will need him to take some confidence from his first professional postseason shutout and be as good if not better.
Hershey may well make a change or two following their first reverse of the series, but they won’t have to make a forced decision on the blue line; quite incredibly, Madison Bowey has not been suspended by the American Hockey League after his terrible head shot on Kasperi Kapanen and an apparent homophobic slur afterwards.
Toronto were able to dominate the special teams battle in Game 4 and certainly shot the puck with greater frequency on the man advantage. Josh Leivo’s powerplay goal was a perfect example of what can be achieved by getting the puck to the net with traffic, as he scored on the second attempt right on top of Justin Peters. Hershey’s goaltender became frustrated due to plenty of traffic and contact in front.
After performing out of his mind through three games, the Marlies may have finally found the chink in the armour of a goaltender who’s been hot in the playoffs despite subpar numbers during the regular season.
Toronto Marlies Game 5 Projected Lines vs. Hershey
Josh Leivo – Mark Arcobello – Connor Brown
Kasperi Kapanen – Ben Smith – William Nylander
Rich Clune – Freddie Gauthier – Zach Hyman
Colin Smith – Nikita Soshnikov
Andrew Campbell – Rinat Valiev
Stuart Percy – Connor Carrick
TJ Brennan – Justin Holl
Scratched: Brendan Leipsic, Tobias Lindberg, Sam Carrick, Matt Frattin, Travis Dermott, David Kolomatis, Andrew Nielsen
Injured: Andreas Johnson