It seems that 24 hours is a long time in hockey.
There have been some poor performances during Greg Moore’s tenure as head coach, but this one stacks up among the worst. A day after man-handling the Moose on Saturday, Manitoba dominated in every facet of the game to record a 5-0 win that was never in doubt.
At no stage were the Marlies ever competitive. They didn’t work as hard as their desperate opponents and showed a lack of discipline throughout.
The warning signs were apparent from the opening seconds. The puck was turned over with regularity through all three zones, and a willingness to chase down and win the puck back was sorely lacking.
Greg Meireles opened the scoring for the Moose inside five minutes, and it was just what the Marlies deserved. It should have been 2-0 Manitoba before the midway mark, but Erik Källgren pulled off a wonderful save to deny Kristian Reichel following a mistake by Marc Michaelis.
The Moose eventually doubled their lead through Mikey Eyssimont, a goal that stemmed from another neutral zone turnover by the Marlies that resulted in a 2-on-2 break. Eyssimont was afforded too much space and his early release deceived Källgren, with the distinct possibility the puck took a deflection off a Toronto stick.
Mikhail Berdin ensured the 2-0 lead stayed intact heading into the break by turning aside an effort from Teemu Kivihalme.
Toronto’s only real chance to make this a game arrived 18 seconds into the middle frame when Brett Seney fired his attempt high and wide of the target after leading an odd-man rush.
A little over two minutes later, Manitoba put the icing on the cake with a third goal. Johnathan Kovacevic tipped home a point shot from Leon Gawanke as the Moose pushed the Marlies around with ease.
Seney forced Berdin into a good save as Manitoba momentarily took their foot off the gas before the worst-case scenario arrived for the Marlies: Nick Robertson connected knee-on-knee with Dominic Toninato in a crunching collision, and the Marlies forward was unable to put any weight on his right leg as he left the ice.
Kirill Semyonov would have the last real opportunity to break Berdin’s shutout. The netminder pulled off a nonchalant glove save, which is something of a trademark for him.
The fourth goal for Moose was probably the worst of the bunch as far as the Marlies were concerned. A long stretch pass bypassed every Toronto player and Austin Poganski finished with ease in alone on Källgren.
The Moose could even afford to waste a 5-on-3 power play as the Marlies’ lack of discipline reared its ugly head. Curtis Douglas was responsible for three of four penalties taken by Toronto in the period.
Manitoba wasn’t so charitable with the man advantage early in the final frame as Reichel tipped home a shot by Ville Heinola to round out the scoring.
There was no response at all from Marlies, who mustered just five shots in the period despite having several power-play opportunities, including a 5-on-3 for 49 seconds.
Post Game Notes
– There is no official word on the extent of the injury to Nick Robertson, but it would be surprising if he doesn’t miss an extended period of time.
Update (Oct. 19, 2021):
INJURY UPDATE: Marlies forward Nick Robertson suffered a non displaced fracture of his right fibula in Sunday's game vs. Manitoba. Robertson will not require surgery and is expected to be out a minimum of 10 weeks.
— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) October 19, 2021
It’s another bad break for Robertson in what was meant to be a proper season of development at the professional level after a disjointed year and a half (between March 2020 and October 2021) in which he didn’t play many games (just 27) due to Covid’s impact on the hockey schedule as well as multiple injuries suffered with both the Leafs and Marlies.
– Josh Ho-Sang is nursing a minor hip ailment and was rested on Sunday as a precaution.
– Greg Moore opted to ice a fourth line of Rich Clune, Curtis Douglas, and Kurtis Gabriel. It was a total disaster, with Clune the only one able to keep up with the pace of play. There was a painful 90-second span where the trio was hemmed in the defensive zone and the Moose brought in fresh legs on the fly.
– Another curious decision by Greg Moore was to switch Semyon Der-Arguchintsev from center to wing and Brett Seney from the wing to center.
– I tried hard to find some positives and came up with two:
Filip Kral put up another good performance despite the carnage around him. I enjoy his ability to separate the puck from a forward along the boards, something we saw on many occasions this weekend.
Erik Källgren may have allowed five goals, but he was given no support in this game. He stayed with the play, never gave up at any stage, and ensured this defeat wasn’t by an even larger margin.
“He should feel good about it,” said Greg Moore after the game. “It is not easy playing back-to-backs in this league, especially with how many opportunities we gave up against him. We made him work a lot harder than he should have, but he made some really big saves. I wish we could’ve had a better effort as a team tonight for him.”
Toronto has a week of practice before playing two homes games next weekend against Rochester and Cleveland.
– Sunday’s lines:
Robertson – Semyonov – SDA
Gogolev – Seney – Anderson
Michaelis – Abramov – Kopacka
Clune – Douglas – Gabriel