Marlies shut out the Moose 3-0
The Toronto Marlies played the Manitoba Moose in not their most entertaining game ever, to use the words of Kyle Dubas. He was speaking in the second intermission, and I'll have more on what he had to say in a bit, but first the game that got a little more exciting in the third period.
The Marlies were missing a long list of their best players: William Nylander (injured), Kasperi Kapanen (not done celebrating), Mark Arcobello (Maple Leafs), Rich Clune (one game suspension) and Connor Brown (beginning rehab on his injured foot).
They came out very flat, got outshot 13-5 even if the zone time seemed to favour the Marlies more than the shot clock showed. Rob Madore, up from the Orlando Solar Bears to take the start in the first of a two game series in Winnipeg, kept the Marlies in it and they finished the period scoreless. Antoine Bibeau is still with the Leafs on their road trip. If you want a deeper look at who is where, we have you covered.
The game marked the debut of Jeremy Morin, who was traded for Richard Panik. He had a fairly quiet outing on the top line with Josh Leivo and Brett Findlay, showing a little initiative in dramatizing a trip well enough to draw a penalty. He did have one of the 5 shots on goal in the first period and finished the game with a team-high of 4.
T.J. Brennan, who leads the AHL in primary points by a defenceman, was solid for the Marlies all game. He was the only player besides Madore who looked on his game for all three periods, and in the second, he made a perfect pass to Josh Leivo for the power play goal that opened the scoring. The pair are heading to the AHL All-Star game, and it's easy to see why.
Just because fellow All-Star, Connor Hellebuyck is busy in the NHL, doesn't mean the Manitoba net wasn't well staffed. Eric Comrie was excellent for the Moose, but Rob Madore, not nearly so highly rated by most goalie experts, was better.
Frederik Gautier and Zach Hyman tested Comrie on the rush, as did Soshnikov with some play in tight. Soshnikov, who Sheldon Keefe seems to have locked into a fourth line grinder role, looks like a real player to me when he gets the chance.
Gautier and Hyman looked good together after an apparent leg injury to Justin Johnson mixed up the lines, and minutes later they were in on the second goal scored by Stuart Percy from a great point shot that his forwards screened very well for him.
Ryan Rupert found the empty net shortly after to make it 3-0, and the Moose got the full Marlies experience after all, even without the full Marlies team on hand.
Update: Justin Johnson has been evaluated by the medical staff and will not return to tonight's game. He is out indefinitely. #MarliesLive— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) January 9, 2016
With Clune back in and Johnson out, the Marlies have just barely enough guys to play tomorrow in the rematch.
But wait, maybe they don't:
Marlies C Sam Carrick left the MTS Centre on crutches. Slipped on a mat as he exited the ice at intermission. Will be evaluated Saturday.— Lance Hornby (@sunhornby) January 9, 2016
Mitch Peacock, play by play man for the Manitoba Moose on TSN Radio, interviewed Marlies GM Kyle Dubas in the second intermission of the game.
Asked to describe how he sees his role, Dubas likened it to his position as manager in the OHL with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. He talked about spending a lot of time managing the roster and keeping the lines of communication open with young players as well as working with the development staff.
He emphasized that the Marlies are taking an approach that they need with skills and systems coaching through the season because they have so far to go as a franchise, unlike teams that leave skills training to the off season. The Leafs want to maximize both at the same time. Dubas said they split the time half and half between skills and systems.
He mentioned that Mike Ellis, a skill development consultant with the Leafs organization was on the road with them working with Connor Brown and others.
Peacock mentioned that he had listened to an interview Dubas had done where he'd dropped analytics based comments in here and there, rather than just talking numbers.
Dubas explained that his background in scouting and his growing interest in the quantitative work happening in baseball led him to incorporate similar ideas into his scouting.
He said using statistical measurement was a part of hockey and that he finds it valuable for player evaluation and improving the game, but it is "not the be all and end all." He stated that, "old fashioned subjective analysis and watching of players," is still part of what they do.
On the subject of the Leafs he had a lot of positive comments about coach Mike Babcock. He explained that Babcock has not had the experience lately of a team that was not expected to be any good. He said that Babcock has never had to be on the "hot seat" in Detroit with good teams year after year like he is in Toronto.
Dubas called him, "inquisitive and collaborative, not only with his coaches, but with his managers." He also said they've been enjoying the recent success that has put the Leafs close to .500 points percentage.
Lots of Madore great saves here.