The Toronto Marlies’ inability to string two consecutive quality performances together must be a concern 13 games into the season for head coach Sheldon Keefe.
His team followed up an encouraging 8-2 win over Belleville with a performance that fell well short of expectations in Laval on Tuesday evening.
Penalty killing and goaltending remain areas of huge concern, and the latter was certainly at the forefront when Laval opened the scoring inside the opening minute.
Alexandre Grenier made a heads-up play behind the Toronto net, but Jeff Glass was out of it and failed to react quickly enough to stop Lukas Vejdemo from nestling the puck into the twine.
A tying goal for Toronto arrived inside the three-minute mark. It was a one-man show as Chris Mueller blocked a shot just inside the Toronto blue line, initiating his own breakaway before beating Charlie Lindgren glove side with a top-shelf finish.
Laval then took control of the game with two consecutive power-play goals that were almost carbon copies of one another. Twice Toronto allowed far too much space to the man down low, who spun around in the crease and jammed shots on net. Byron Froese and Michael Chaput were the scorers, spelling the end for Jeff Glass with just 8:55 on the clock, at which point Keefe turned to Eamon McAdam.
The Marlies‘ woes only worsened when Adam Cracknell’s night ended prematurely after a hit left him favouring his right leg as he departed the ice. Having dressed seven defensemen, the Marlies were now down to ten forwards for the remainder of the game –Jordan Subban and Frank Corrado took turns at playing forward — but they did draw within one thanks to Mueller again before the end of the opening frame.
Andreas Borgman found Jeremy Bracco down low to the right of the net, where the winger delivered a perfect cross-ice pass to present Mueller with a backdoor tap-in.
The Marlies kept themselves in the game with a solid penalty kill to begin the middle 20 but almost undid that work with a shoddy power play. The Rocket were gifted three excellent scoring chances while down a man, but McAdam stood tall.
Back at even strength, McAdam was helpless to deny Vejdemo on a breakaway following a careless giveaway by Mason Marchment four minutes into the period.
A partial breakaway opportunity for Dmytro Timashov resulted in a good save by Charlie Lindgren, and that’s as near as the Marlies came to making this game a contest as Laval struck late in the period through Maxim Lamarche to put Laval ahead 5-2.
Having only registered 13 shots on net through 40 minutes, the Marlies mustered just eight more in the final frame as Laval cantered to victory.
McAdam was doing his best to hold the fort, making a series of sharp saves on Laval’s sixth power play of the game.
His resolve was finally broken thanks to a piece of almost comical play from Calle Rosen. The Toronto defenseman perfectly picked out Daniel Audette in the slot, where the Rocket forward recorded his second of the season to round out the scoring.
Post Game Notes
– In his last three appearances, Jeff Glass has allowed 15 goals on 45 shots and has been pulled twice. His lack of form is a huge concern, and the Marlies surely now have to turn to Eamon McAdam, unless they seek outside help.
McAdam posted 21 saves and kept the scoreline from getting worse. His three goals against comprised of a breakaway, a turnover in the slot, and a power-play tally. Surely, he’ll get the nod for the Marlies’ next game against Belleville.
– With Trevor Moore called up, Adam Brooks absent because of a heart concern, and now an injury to Adam Cracknell, don’t be surprised if the Marlies opt to call for forward reinforcements from Newfoundland.
– Emerson Clark isn’t far from game action following an upper body injury, while Rich Clune is expected to make an appearance sooner than later having been declared healthy.
– Chris Mueller is now Toronto’s leading scorer with 13 points in eleven games. This was the forward’s first multi-goal game of the season and five of his six tallies this year are even-strength goals.
– Tuesday’s lines: