Toronto Marlies Head Coach Greg Moore could have called on a couple of excuses after watching his team fall to their heaviest margin of defeat so far this season in Laval on Saturday.
The Marlies were playing their third game in less than 72 hours with a roster bereft of its two best defensemen as well as a number of other key contributors. Two players were making their Marlies debut. The team was facing a fresher, highly-motivated Laval club that was looking to avenge defeat the previous evening.
Asked where he thought the game began to breakdown, the first words spoken by Greg Moore were “complete level.” The new coach went on to say, “I didn’t think our start was as good as it needed to be. Our first periods have been problematic from what I’ve seen since I got here, so we just have to have some discussion to make sure we correct some things and move from there.”
Very much in the same mold of Sheldon Keefe, it appears Moore is not going to beat around the bush when his team fails to compete to the standard expected. He was spot on with his evaluation of the game, with Toronto essentially a beaten team just 77 seconds into the second period.
It might have been a different story had the Marlies power play not been a total mess (although note the strong emphasis on the word might there).
Mason Marchment drew an infraction just a minute in, but Laval almost capitalized on a sloppy piece of play by Jeremy Bracco. Joseph Woll bailed out the right winger with a good save on Alexandre Alain.
The deadlock was broken at the midway mark of the opening frame following a shift that lacked the compete level Greg Moore referenced after the game. Michael McCarron was allowed to drive to the net unchallenged, and while though he didn’t find the twine initially, Yannick Veilleux was given freedom in front of the goal to redirect a shot by Karl Alzner past Woll not long after.
It was a similar story four minutes later. Gustav Olofsson and Charles Hudon created the goal, but the final touch came off the head of Teemu Kivihalme, who didn’t play tight enough to Hudon and then shied away from the play.
Rich Clune comprehensively winning a fight temporarily sparked the Marlies, who went on to draw a penalty and strike on the power play. Kivihalme redeemed himself with a clean shot from the point that beat Cayden Primeau as the Marlies somewhat fortuitously entered the first intermission trailing just 2-1.
“I thought we really let down our goaltenders today. We know they like to shoot heavy from the point. We weren’t strong enough out front and didn’t protect our goaltenders — the most important guys on the ice.”
Those post-game words from Moore perfectly summed up the beginning of the middle frame as the Marlies folded like a pack of cards, allowing two goals in 77 seconds.
Xavier Ouellet potted his fifth of the season and Hudon his second of the game as Laval now lead 4-1. After completing wasting a 5-on-3 power play, the Marlies fell further behind. After the fifth goal, it was a mercy pull for the rookie Woll, who was totally hung out to dry by his teammates.
The shots on goal were 18-1 through the middle frame in favour of the Rocket, who could have and should have held a bigger lead than 5-1 through 40 minutes.
Kasimir Kaskisuo wasn’t even spared the full ignominy of this defeat as rookie Ralph Cuddemi skated past Ben Harpur with ease and teed up Jake Evans for one of the easiest goals he’ll score this season.
Up 6-1 less than six minutes into the third period, I fully expected a Laval team looking to snap a five-game losing streak to continue piling on the misery, but instead, they geared down and Toronto ended up recording 16 shots in the final frame.
Debutants Michal Kapla and Giovanni Fiore had the best of the scoring opportunities, but the Marlies didn’t add to their one goal as they fell to their heaviest margin of defeat this season.
Post Game Notes
– The Marlies have lost five of their last seven games, allowing 23 goals in those defeats.
– Toronto was without the services of Adam Brooks, Pierre Engvall, Kenny Agostino, Egor Korshkov, Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren, to name a few.
– Michael Kapla and Giovanni Fiore (PTO) both made their debuts. It’s unfair to assess either performance given the circumstances of this game.
– The Marlies’ lone goal was scored on the power play, while all of Laval’s goals were scored during 5v5 play.
– Saturday’s lines: