A visibly angry Greg Moore wasn’t mincing words in his post-game press conference after a 5-1 loss to Belleville on Saturday night.
The first question from Todd Crocker: “What are your two greatest concerns about your team from this weekend?”
Moore’s full response: “Consistency, effort, and compete.”
The first frame was a boring affair, with neither team able to find any fluidity to their play offensively.
Toronto should have taken the lead at the midway mark on just their third recorded shot. Tyler Gaudet and Mac Hollowell connected to send Adam Brooks in alone on a breakaway, but the Winnipeg native was comfortably denied by Anton Forsberg with a lame attempt at a finish that didn’t fully test a goaltender who hasn’t played much hockey of late.
The Marlies did take the lead into the intermission, though, thanks to another well-worked breakout play. Kalle Kossila sent Kenny Agostino away down the left, leading to a 2-on-1 break in which the veteran forward dished off to rookie Jeremy McKenna, who ripped a one-time shot past Forsberg.
The warnings signs were evident inside the first minute of the middle period. During some four-on-four action, Alex Formeton made a mockery of the Toronto defense, sweeping past Calle Rosen as if he wasn’t there before forcing Joseph Woll into a good save.
The Senators then almost caught Toronto napping after no Marlie picked up Erik Brannstrom exiting the box. In alone on goal, Brannstrom fluffed his chance and Woll didn’t even need to make a save.
The inevitable tying goal arrived a second before the three-minute mark, when a shot by Brannstrom resulted in a rebound that two Sens players wanted more than the Toronto defense. Woll turned aside Mark Kastelic, but he could do nothing about Egor Sokolov scoring his fourth of the year.
Belleville’s first power play resulted in a go-ahead goal less than a minute and a half later. Toronto’s penalty kill didn’t appear to be engaged, making it all too easy for Formenton to score his fifth of the season on a redirection.
Belleville struck again four minutes later on what was the worst goal against of the five from a Toronto standpoint. A failure to clear the zone twice, sloppy turnovers, and a lack of competitiveness in the defensive zone resulted in a gift for Colby Williams.
That marked three consecutive goals against in the span of 5:24, and the Senators really should really have built a bigger advantage than a 3-1 scoreline after 40 minutes.
Brannstrom hit the crossbar late in the frame, and even on consecutive Toronto power plays, the Senators looked like the more likely side to score.
Toronto flattered to deceive early in the first five minutes of the third period, but a comeback was never really in the works.
Agostino rang the iron with a blistering shot 28 seconds into the frame on a power play that carried over from the middle frame. 90 seconds later, a set defensive zone faceoff play resulted in a breakaway for Kossila. His effort was turned aside, but a penalty was drawn on the play, resulting in the Marlies‘ worst power play of the game.
A snapshot from Jeremy McKenna off an offensive zone faceoff clipping the top of the crossbar was as near as the Marlies came to scoring for a second time.
A pair of goals just 38 seconds apart sealed the deal on a comprehensive victory for Belleville: Kastelic netted on the power play before Joseph LaBate scored the Sens’ fifth of the game.
At this juncture, Greg Moore opted to pull Woll for Angus Redmond. It was a baffling move that served no purpose by this point in the game from my vantage point. It was a shambolic finish to the game with penalties galore, resulting in four consecutive power plays for the Marlies without a goal.
Post Game Notes
– Results are not the be-all, end-all in this shortened season without a championship to play for, but Toronto is 1-1-4 in their last six outings. More worryingly, this performance, in particular, harkens back to what we saw at the beginning of Greg Moore’s tenure.
There was a total lack of compete and no will to battle, bad decision-making with and without the puck, and missed assignments all over the ice. At times, Toronto looked completely disengaged this weekend.
– Adam Brooks and Calle Rosen, in particular, should be the cornerstones of the roster right now, but they are playing the worst hockey I’ve seen from either of them in a Marlies jersey.
“Similar theme — consistency and compete… [Brooks] and I have talked about it,” said Moore. “He needs to demand more of himself. He is a really good player. He has to find the motivation to bring it every day.”
– Toronto has the opportunity to get back on track next Wednesday at home against Belleville.
– Saturday’s lines: