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Marlies vs. Moose Series Recap: Robertson scores first AHL goal, Sandin injured

Focusing on performances of this new Marlies team.

Columbus Blue Jackets v Toronto Maple Leafs
TORONTO, ONTARIO - AUGUST 02: Nicholas Robertson #89 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates in the third period against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game One of the Eastern Conference Qualification Round prior to the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on August 02, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Robertson made his NHL debut in this game.
Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images

The Toronto Marlies opened their season in Winnipeg (they drove there) with four games that they split against the Manitoba Moose. The team played four games in five nights and both teams basically ran the same lineups and goalies for all four games. The Marlies won the first two, lost the second two, and lost Rasmus Sandin after just two periods to what sounds like a difficult foot injury.

The Marlies started local boy Andrew D’Agostini for all four games, he sported a .902 save percentage in the series. His counterpart, Mikhail Berdin had a better .922 despite the Marlies winning the goal battle 12-10 because of the massive difference in shots by each team (153-103).

Calle Rosen led the way with three goals, while Timothy Liljegren and Kenny Agostino shared the points lead with four each.

In Short...

Game 1: Tyler Gaudet led the way with two goals and an assist on Joey Anderson’s first Marlies goal of the season. Nick Robertson also scored a point on that goal. Gaudet had a real nose for the open spaces, looking both game-ready and determined to make a difference. The Marlies peppered Berdin with 35 shots from all over the ice, including 15 scoring chances.

Game 2: This game was chaotic in every sense of the word. There were a lot of emotions built up from Game 1 that got released, the goaltending was suspect at times, and not only did Robertson score his first goal, the Marlies scored five more. The rest of the series cooled down after this, probably because Johnathan Kovacevic was suspended for the rest of it, but maybe also because the Moose also won both games.

Game 3: I don’t know how the Marlies lost this game. They peppered Berdin with 45 shots — most from from medium and high-danger spots — sheer volume alone should’ve won this game. The Moose basically weathered a storm in the first period a decent first five minutes. Their goal came on a defensive collapse from the second pair and the Marlies kept them shotless for the rest of the period. The puck was completely in the o-zone the whole time. The second was a little more even, but a 2-on-1 with Duszak resulted a goal that didn’t make him, nor D’Agostini look good. The Marlies just didn’t have the same energy after that, even when the Moose turtled towards their goalie.

Game 4: The Moose opened the scoring with a goal shot from a terrible angle. Robertson had a big chance right before that could’ve changed the tide of the game, but it was Rosen who responded a minute after the goal with one of his own. The Marlies put on a charge in the third period after the Moose scored early in the third — the second pair did not show themselves well on the goal — but couldn’t tie it. Berdin was very good in this game, he stopped 38 of 39, with about half the shots coming from a scoring chance area. Conversely, D’Agostini only faced about 11 scoring chances as he stopped 27 of 29.

Performances

The Marlies held a pretty stable lineup throughout their four games this week. However, there were changes so let’s break them down before we talk about how each line performed.

The first change came when Sandin left the first game of the season with a leg injury. That caused Duszak to move from the fourth line to the third pair (yes, he was a winger in the first game). After their second win on Tuesday, Robertson swapped with Agostino to the second line in order to give the rookie some protection from the dirty hits coming at him.

Kovacevic, who ran at Duszak in the second game with a crosscheck to the head, was one of the main perpetrators and was suspended for the rest of the series. Rookie forward Cole Stevenson played in Game 2 on the fourth line, while Zack Trott earned Games 3 and 4 in that spot.

First Line (Robertson/Agostino - Brooks - Anderson) Grade: B

The first game’s line was a lot of fun to watch, and I hope we get to see more of it when we play teams that aren’t trying to play whack-a-mole. This line didn’t give the team much offense, the trio of Agostino, Brooks, and Anderson only scored four goals, two of which were Brooks on the power play. The line also assisted on two of Rosen’s three goals in the series. This line gave up a lot of goals in the series which gives me some concern but I’m not going to think too much about GF%.

Second Line (Agostino/Robertson - Chartier - Brazeau) Grade: A-

Justin Brazeau is a pretty decent AHL player. After a season of growth in the ECHL, he certainly knows his way around the ice and looks comfortable in the league. Katya noted that he didn’t wow her socks off, but he showed he can be a good middle-of-the-lineup AHLer at 23 years old. Yes, he’s that old, so let’s pump the brakes on an NHL future (for now). Chartier is a very good centre, especially down low. He worked well with Brazeau and got Robertson involved a lot.

On the other side of the spectrum, teenager Robertson showed his speed, agility, and situational awareness really well in this series. After a few shifts he definitely looked like he belonged in the AHL. He made lots of smart plays, and even though he was getting a lot of Manitoba’s attention, pushed into the dangerous areas by pushing the defense back. Don’t believe me? He took 17 shots in four games, seven from high danger and only one from low danger.

Third Line (Elynuik - Gaudet - Pooley) Grade: B

Gaudet jumped out of the gate with two goals and an assist in the first game of the season. He didn’t get on the scoresheet for the rest of the week but he piled together 10 shots and played a strong 3C position. His linemates Elynuik and Pooley had their moments last season in the bottom six and continued their level of play this season. Elynuik scored in the third game, and generally worked well playing low in the zone and pushing pucks to the slot for chances.

Fourth Line (Clune - Conrad - Duszak/Stevenson/Trott) Grade: Present

Clune had a fight, it’s nice to see him playing games after a while. Conrad played well, got chances, but didn’t score. Similar to Boyd and Chartier in the exhibition game this season, he seemed to actually be playing for something when he was on the ice. I like to see that. He’s a good utility guy that could maybe play up if needed, but I don’t see the next Trevor Moore, sorry. Duszak was fun as a winger, I talk more about him below. I didn’t notice Stevenson at all, Trott showed some enthusiasm for sure. I think both deserved an ECHL season instead of this.

First Pairing (Sandin/Rosen - Liljegren) Grade: A

Rosen picked up where he left off as one of the AHL’s best offensive defensemen with three big shots from the point that flew into the back of the net. Liljegren posted four assists (two primary) on 13 shots, the pair combined for 25 in the series. They certainly took a lot of shots with the first line out there, and got a lot of points too.

I really liked Liljegren last week. He was confident offensively, using fakes and deceptive passes to move the defense around. Defensively, Liljegren was good in transition against, and a little better in defensive set pieces. He sometimes got lost in the scrums or disengaged, with the silver lining being he didn’t throw himself out of position. If you saw my tweets, I am still bullish on Liljegren as an NHL player this season.

Second Pairing (Kivihalme - Rosen/Hollowell) Grade: D+

Hollowell has a lot to give offensively, he’s talented, fast, and accurate with his shots and passes. However, his defensive game has a long way to go. When he has to start going back, he looks like a deer in the headlights. He doesn’t initially know who to cover, he stops skating, and then lets the forwards overwhelm him. It’s good that he plays up in the rush, but he’s a lot slower and less certain coming back and it causes problems. Kivihalme can sometimes have similar flaws when he’s not moving fast. This is definitely something for both to work on.

There were a lot of frustrated faces when this pair was on the ice and a goal was scored.

Third Pairing (Rubins - Hollowell/Duszak) Grade: C

Rubins has decided to shoot this season and I love it. He doesn’t often play with star players so getting shots to the net quickly for scrums in front is exactly what he should be doing. His offensive instincts are underrated, mostly because he doesn’t look like Duszak. I’ve liked him defensively and he shows well in a third pair role. I would like to see him up in the lineup against better competition to know if he can handle it. I’m always a fan of a giraffe who can skate.

Joey Duszak is fun. He plays RW on the second power play and is very entertaining in the offensive zone. The Marlies were smart to try him as a winger because he’s skewed all the way towards offense resulting in not much to love heading the other way. Seriously, all his little movements and such made me feel like I watching Bracco again, especially when he was on the power play.

This was probably the only not-fun moment.

The Goalie (Andrew D’Agostini) Grade: B+

First off, lots of respect for playing four games in five nights though moments when I could see him in pain. He shouldn’t have done it, Kai Edmonds is a respectable goalie, but he did and that’s worth mentioning. Mikhail Berdin was the much better goalie in this series, but that wasn’t a surprise coming in. For a smaller goalie, I know how important it is to cut down shots and be aggressive, that style leads to bad moments, but it more or less gets the job done. One thing I couldn’t get around were some of the really bad looking goals, like the opener in Game 4.

Game Highlights

Game 1 (3-2 W)

Joey Anderson from Tyler Gaudet and Nick Robertson

Tyler Gaudet from Timothy Liljegren and Hudson Elynuik

Tyler Gaudet from Joey Duszak and Rourke Chartier

Game 2 (6-2 W)

Calle Rosen from Adam Brooks and Timothy Liljegren

Kenny Agostino from Joey Anderson and Joey Duszak

Nick Robertson (!) from Rourke Chartier

Calle Rosen from Rourke Chartier

Kristians Rubins from Nick Robertson

Adam Brooks from Timothy Liljegren and Kenny Agostino (PP)

Game 3 (2-4 L)

Hudson Elynuik from Teemu Kivihalme and Scott Pooley

Adam Brooks from Kenny Agostino and Timothy Liljegren (PP)

Game 4 (1-2 L)

Calle Rosen from Joey Anderson and Kenny Agostino

I welcome some feedback on these articles. What would like to see, what areas of the team should I focus on? I’ve averse to recapping every game in detail, I simply don’t have the time anymore. I want to focus more on the analysis and how players are developing, within that I think there’s a lot of things I can do. For example, stats analysis, skills evaluation, tactics, chemistry, etc. I tried to give a bit of everything in this articles (hence why it’s late) in order to show all these different things before I pick a direction. Feel free to put your thoughts in the comments!