A massive, and much needed, win for the Toronto Marlies last night in Hartford as they went on to defeat the Wolfpack 7-4. Sitting last in the North Division, the Marlies are at the bottom and looking to make a move in the right direction with the first of six games on the road, as the Ricoh Coliseum has been turned in a small lake for the boat show.
With Garret Sparks again starting in between the pipes for the Marlies, it is apparent that wins are now starting to become just as important as development for goalies within the organization. While it was obvious in the early part of the 2016-17 season that the team was looking to push Antoine Bibeau, now it would seem that Garret Sparks has the opportunity to showcase exactly what he can do. I would expect that Bibeau gets the call in the second game of this weekend, tonite in Bridgeport.
Stopping 24 of 28 is a decent evening at the office but will do nothing when it comes to padding stats. However, at this point the win is the most crucial aspect to this team moving forward.
Without Kasperi Kapanen and Tobias Lindberg, both out with injuries, the Toronto Marlies will have to get scoring from new sources and have players step up if this team wants to make the post season.
Marlies Rookie, Andrew Nielsen did exactly that as he started the game with not one but two goals. Getting the team off on the right foot, on the road, is easy to say but tougher to do and Nielsen now has 28 points (8g 20a) in his 38 games played this season. Many people will try to downplay Nielsen’s stats because of his effectiveness on the powerplay, but isn’t that part of the game? Heavy, accurate shot, and good vision are propelling this kid to numbers that I am not sure Management saw coming. Each time I say he isn’t ready for the NHL based on footspeed and gap control he puts up a monster night, and I cannot wait for him to get a taste of NHL action.
In just his 7th game of the season with the Marlies, Brett Findlay decided to take full advantage of the minutes afforded to him by Coach Keefe. Registering his first career hat trick and a game winning goal, look for Findlay to get more minutes with the team as they attempt to figure out just where to get the goal scoring from as the season heats up.
Kerby Rychel who has had an interesting season put up four assists on the evening, and continues to show glimpses of skill just when you think it is time to move along from this project. Size along the walls is in desperate need within the Leafs organization but speed to accompany that large frame is also a requirement. Unsure if Rychel has the NHL level of skill, but giving him more ice time with the Marlies is one way to find out.
While I keep reading and hearing that Justin Holl should be considered (Athletic was last source) to be called up for the Leafs, I just do not see it. A minus 3 in a 7-4 victory and a mediocre season puts Holl on my AHL roster for the foreseeable future. Suspect decision making, and positional play has hurt this defenceman this season.
A special moment for Captain Andrew Campbell as he played his 600th professional game last night in Hartford, and his 558th of his AHL career. A hard working example and leader of the hockey club, congrats to Andrew from Leafs Hub.
Marlies play again this evening at Bridgeport in a 7pm tilt.
“It was good to see Findlay get rewarded. We gave him a good opportunity today to come in and play good minutes, play on the power play, and he rewarded us today. Bounces went our way, went his way, and that’s a positive thing for our team. We scored a lot today, games become a little easier when you get that many.”
– Sheldon Keefe, Marlies Head Coach