So the Marlies topped the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (1st in the AHL) by a score of 2-1 on Friday night, and Nazem Kadri was easily the most noticeable player on the ice from either team, despite not registering a point.
He was a plus 1 on the night, but his presence was felt all over the ice by the Penguins - largely as a result of his extremely physical play. He managed to dodge a hit and dump the opposition player in the bench in the 1st. He got riled up near the end of the 2nd and solidly punched the guy in the face in response. Then most noticeably he laid a huge hit on Penguin D man Joey Mormina, who outweighs him by about 30-40 lbs.
After Mormina returned to his skates, he attempted to return the favour on the much smaller Kadri, only to end up flat on his back side all over again. It was an impressive physical demonstration of where Kadri's strength is at, and how he's improving in a wide number of areas of the game beyond just his offensive contributions.
Check out the video and decide for yourself if Kadri's approaching the levels of physicality we expected when Burke drafted him 7th overall. Follow me after the jump for a further update on the rest of the Marlies.
The Marlies are now up to 70 points on the season, and sit 4th in the North Division. Of course the important point is, the 3 teams ahead of them are all tied with 72 points. Hamilton leads the division and has 4 games in hand on the Marlies, but that could swing fairly easily this weekend as they play back to back on Saturday and Sunday in a home and home. Saturday will go at Copp's Coliseum in the Hammer, while Sunday's matchup will be at the Ricoh Coliseum here in Toronto.
The Marlies are 6-3-0-1 in their last 10, but they've managed to lose ground to Lake Erie (8-2-0-0), so keeping up their hot play will go a long way to helping them into the playoffs over the stretch run.
Jonas Gustavsson has returned to the Leafs, so Ben Scrivens has returned to be the primary starter for the Marlies. Rynnas is still recovering from a broken finger, so Andrew Engelage is the current #2. Scrivens is now 8-5-3 with a .925 SV% and 2.34 GAA. He may or may not have surpassed Rynnas on the depth chart, as Rynnas' numbers dipped severely before his injury (.909 SV%, 2.80 GAA).
Juraj Mikus, Korbinian Holzer, and Simon Gysbers all played solidly in a game where the Marlies played 7 D men. Richmond, Engel, Brennan and Lashoff all dressed also. It seemed to work out defensively, as the team kept the Penguins down to only 1 goal, despite being outshot 34 to 21. Largely this was motivated by the 3 games in 3 nights the Marlies are about to be pushed through. In addition to the D seeing some reduced minutes, Christian Hanson left the game after the pre-game skate feeling under the weather, so hopefully he returns for the remainder of the weekend.
Overall, the Marlies played reasonably well, so hopefully they can grab some more points against the Divisional Leaders in Hamilton this weekend. Saturday's game is only being carried on Radio, but the home game on Sunday is going to be shown nationally on the CBC at 1 PM EST. Hopefully you can all catch the game, there's only 9 opportunities left in the regular season to watch the games on TV.
Also - think about making your way down to watch the games live. The Marlies could use the support and the Ricoh is a pretty fun little venue to take in a professional hockey game... and despite protestations to the contrary, using the Harbourfront Streetcar is NOT that complicated (or difficult).