This is what your Toronto Marlies have accomplished so far this season. Simply put, this is a team of domination.
Friday evening at the Ricoh Coliseum the Toronto Marlies started the game off in a sluggish manner. Antoine Bibeau got the start in the nets for the Marlies and gave up two goals in the 2nd period and then shut the door the rest of the way. Entering the third period, the Marlies didn’t look like a team that could come back versus the WSB Penguins but if you thought that, you haven’t been paying close enough attention to the 2015-16 Marlies. Having an incredible season, T.J. Brennan started the comeback with a goal early in the final stanza.
The goal scored by Brennan, was his 20th of the season and his 49th point. Smooth moving, with a heavy shot, T.J. has become a scoring force in the AHL and has a plus/minus +23 as we head into the final stretch of the season. Simply put, Brennan is a straw that stirs the drink with the Baby Leafs.
Once you open the floodgates, it is tough to stop this team. The offense can come at your in waves as the Marlies possess the best goal differential in the entire league (205 GF and 129 GA). Following up the goal by Brennan, Connor Brown decided to get into the act with his 6th goal of the campaign. Coming off a significant break of his ankle, during a blocked shot, it has taken the Torontonian a bit of time to find his groove this year. Always a threat, especially with the depth of this team, it is great to have Brown rounding into form as the playoffs approach.
Game tied at 2. William Nylander provides the game winning goal (16th of the season) on a primary assist from Hyman. Hyman would have 3 points on the evening. To ensure the Marlies victory Brett Findlay scored the fourth and final goal with just under 4 minutes to play in the game. Findlay continues to be a nice surprise for the Marlies team/organization in the 27 games he has played in the AHL this year.
Big win and onto the ACC on Saturday afternoon.
An early start at the Air Canada Centre (1:30pm) saw the Marlies hosting the Portland Pirates in a quick turnaround game that was basically a trap game. Starting in the second game in two days was Garret Sparks. Coming into the game, Sparks held a 11-3-3-3 record and .925 save percentage with a solid 2.40 goals against average.
Great energy from almost 11,000 fans at the ACC this afternoon should go directly to the legs of the home team, but that wasn’t the case. Coming off a late finish the night before, and an early wake up call on Saturday it was obvious early, that the Marlies would be in tough vs the Pirates. Part of the plan for the visiting team, appeared to be finishing all checks when given the opportunity and to engage in scrums to further fatigue the young Marlies team.
The first period was a slow pace, missed passes and a lack of cohesion would be the best way to describe the game. Sparks was solid in keeping the game tied at zero into the first intermission. While the road team would be pleased with that type of play, I can assure you that Coach Keefe would not be.
Just a minute into the second period the Pirates took an early 1-0 lead. As we have learned from the night before and during the entire season, do not write off the Marlies.
The Toronto Marlies tied the game on a goal by Frederik Gauthier on a sweet pass from Tobias Lindberg. After the game, Coach Keefe had very positive comments in regards to Lindberg calling him “a prospect unique to the organization, who is playing better with each game”.
Recent Maple Leafs call-up (sure it was only one game) Brendan Leipsic, found his stride in the third period and the entire team looked like they went into feeding frenzy mode. Scoring two goals (including the game winner) Leipsic surpassed his previous AHL high with his 16th of the season. The first goal was of the one-time variety on an absolutely PERFECT pass by Rinat Valiev who put the puck on a golden tee for Leipsic.
To put the dagger in the visiting team, Leipsic score a great goal by cutting to the middle of the ice on another great pass from Brett Findlay this time. This goal put the Marlies up 3-1 and would be all that the team and starter Garret Sparks would need on this afternoon.
Your Toronto Marlies are a wrecking ball of talent and depth. They are also a team that must both frustrate Coach Keefe on a lot of occasions but also must make him smile in disbelief (in a positive manner) at other times. Seemingly lacking an attention to structure, is the greatest concern that Coach Keefe has. He admits, “not sure if they lack focus at times or just realize they can score a lot of goals to compensate for those mistakes…”
Whatever flaws of this team might be, they are entertaining to say the least and the best hockey ticket in this market for the foreseeable future.