The Toronto Marlies were home to play the second game of the team’s three-in-three this weekend. On Friday, the Marlies fell 5-4 in overtime to the Belleville Senators in Belleville. The team went 1/7 on the power play in that game, dropping them to 17th in the league in that category with a success rate of 19.4%.
On the Saturday, the Marlies returned to Ricoh the Coke Machine to play the Binghamton Devils for the first of two games, the second of which will be at “The House that Mo Built”, Scotiabank Arena. Toronto lost 2-1 in regulation to the B-Devils, Chris Mueller with the lone goal for the good guys.
The Marlies played a well-coached game — they got their chances — but it was one of those unlucky nights where the only two mistakes the defense made ended up in the net, and the Marlies hit the post four times at the other.
The Marlies are in the midst of a three-games-in-three-nights weekend, including travel! As a result, the team scratched some of their regulars, namely: Timothy Liljegren, Rasmus Sandin, and Trevor Moore (who we assume is still on his way back from California).
Slotting in, Andrew Nielsen made his return to the lineup following an eight-game healthy scratching, as well as Adam Brooks (heart) and Kasimir Kaskisuo (lower body) who are both back from injury. Brooks missed three games, while Kaskisuo returned after nine. Felt a lot longer than that in Leafs Nation, I must say.
Nielsen started on the second pair with team “dad” Vincent LoVerde. LoVerde has babysat inexperienced defensemen throughout his tenure with the team. The list includes players like Travis Dermott, Rasmus Sandin, Calle Rosen, and Andreas Borgman.
Brooks made his return with a familiar face on his left (Mason Marchment), and a less familiar one in Giorgio Estephan, who has joined the team from the Newfoundland Growlers as a result of Adam Cracknell’s right leg injury that he suffered in Laval last week.
Dmytro Timashov - Chris Mueller - Jeremy Bracco
Pierre Engvall - Sam Gagner - Carl Grundstrom
Mason Marchment - Adam Brooks - Giorgio Estephan (#28)
Griffen Molino - Colin Greening - Josh Jooris
Calle Rosen - Frank Corrado
Andrew Nielsen - Vincent LoVerde
Andreas Borgman - Jordan Subban
The Marlies had a relatively tame start to the period. Shots were 2-5 in favour of the B-Devils after 10 minutes, and neither side really put a scare in the other. Subban stood out to me in the first bit of the game, both the good and bad. He showed some great straight line speed when he either jumped up in the rush, or was forced to sprint back when he gave it away off a rush. You can tell how much he wants to shimmy and shake past the defenders in front of him — much like his older brother — but his dynamism just quite isn’t at that elite level.
With LoVerde in the box for hooking seven minutes in, the Marlies tried and failed to stop the Devils power play. The first unit for the Marlies got stuck out on the ice longer than they wanted, and they could only sub Jooris off for Brooks. Colton White took a point shot, and Blake Pietila tipped it in the high slot. It might’ve been Rosen who should’ve stepped up to grab Pietila, as Brooks was covering the pass to the wing.
Marchment was buzzing around the net during the two Marlies power plays. His ability to stand his ground in front of the net, as well as play the puck in tight in the blue paint and behind the net has been something the Marlies have targeted from the wings. Given that, I find it really odd that during 5-on-5 play, Brooks is having to battle in front of the net while Marchment is trying to make fancy plays from the wing. It could just be a teaching thing because I’m sure Brooks wants to make the NHL as a center, but it’s just something I noticed.
I hate to say it, but beyond a few chances for Marchment on the power play, the Marlies looked positively boring. The shots after one period were 6-8 in favour of the B-Devils, and the Marlies went 0/2 on the power play and 0/1 on the kill. I saw some flashes of something out of Bracco at points. He ripped a shot that just missed the net, and Mueller was his usual great puck-controlling self in the offensive zone, but beyond those moments, there wasn’t much to take away from the period.
The Swedes were pretty impressive on Country Night.
Borgman and Rosen both played a confident game. Rosen plays almost a faultless game in all three zones; he’s quick in retrieving the puck and getting it out of the zone, making stretch passes through the neutral zone, and getting to the right spots at the offensive blueline. Even in special teams, Rosen has been a horse. He plays the full two minutes with LoVerde most times out, and has been a dependable presence at the offensive blueine. I would love to see what he could do at the NHL level. He’s shown last spring wasn’t a fluke.
Borgman has also been doing a lot of the things Rosen has, but he added a little bit of snarl in this game. He and the Devils bench were jawing at each other all night and there were plenty of extra-curriculars after whistles. You like to see that kind of stuff out of Borgman, it means his confidence is through the roof.
Timashov was a third player who did all the right things, worked hard to be in the right spots, but never received much of the glory. He’s always in the right position, always battling for his life along the boards, and he’s become a great facilitator at his own blueline through the neutral zone. It was his work as the F3 (last guy back) that allowed Subban to make those jumps into the offensive zone.
I swear this isn’t my fault, but the moment I started watching Corrado closely, the Marlies let in a goal with him on the ice. You can watch the goal below, so I’ll explain what I saw out of Corrado on the play. He’s a somewhat weak skater so he has to play safe a lot of the times. Unfortunately, doing that sometimes leads to the opposition skating circles around you. That was pretty much what happened here.
Corrado was doing just fine standing around while his partner attempted to get the puck out, but when Rosen got double-teamed up the left-side wing, Frankie was stuck trying to defend a 2-on-1. He sadly didn’t cover anyone and was lucky to see the centering pass slide all the way to the boards, but Nick Lappin was able to puck up the puck and snipe it past Corrado and Kaskisuo.
The second was much like the first. Not much going on offensively, the defense being okay, but ultimately not doing enough to get anything going in the offensive zone and keep the puck out in the defensive zone. At least the shots swung back to the Marlies favour, they took a 19-18 shot lead into the third.
The Marlies started to get something going in the offensive zone during this period. The Brooks line was humming in the offensive zone, and they were able to get the puck to LoVerde, who found Nielsen jumping into the fray from the bench. Nielsen picked up the puck right at the blueline, wound up his big slapper, and wired it into MacKenzie Blackwood’s glove. Big chance, right? Not so much.
The whole move was very slow and predictable. All the Devils defenders were in position to take away any screens, and the shot was so clearly telegraphed that Blackwood was able to get perfectly square and cut down the angle such that there was really nowhere to shoot. There aren’t many tools left in Nielsen’s game. He’s not particularly fast, he struggles against high-end competition, and everyone knows about his shot and it’s gotten really easy for teams to negate the effectiveness of it.
The Devils got into a spot of penalty trouble midway through the third period, and it was all started by the guy they call D-Nitro. I’m just kidding, only I call him that. Anyway, it was an almost comical series of unfortunate events that resulted in the goal.
First, a Devils player fell feet first into the boards on an icing call. The Devils thought it was Timashov’s fault and ran to accost him. That turned into a melee that John Quenneville got a little too excited about and took an extra penalty.
THAT resulted in Timashov (or it might’ve been Engvall) falling on a stick, but the referees thought it was a tripping call on John Ramage so they gave the Marlies a 5-on-3.
And then all of that resulted in Timashov setting up Gagner for the one-timer that brought the Marlies back within one. Rosen’s pass to Timashov across the heart of the slot was amazing and really opened up the play. Big kudos to him.
From there, the Marlies pulled Kaskisuo and tried to get that one last goal they needed to extend the game to overtime. They got their chance when a LoVerde point shot was deflected in the slot, but it bounced right off the post! The clock ticked to zero and that was it. Marlies lose 2-1.
After the Whistle
- It was nice to see both Brooks and Engvall killing penalties in this game. They’re both quick on their feet and feisty when you ask them to be. Brooks needs some more years in the AHL before he sees the NHL, so I think the Marlies will instead focus more on his 5-on-5 play, but Engvall might make the team as early as 2019 (yes, I’m serious), so if he’s going to step into a bottom-six role, he’s gotta know how to PK. It’s hard to give everyone on this team ice, but seeing the kids getting more special teams time is definitely something I would welcome.
- Speaking of PK, Calle Rosen was also on every unit, playing every shift, on top of his duties as the #1 defenseman. I know he has Travis Dermott, Martin Marincin, and Justin Holl ahead of him on the depth chart, but this guy deserves a full-time NHL job. Will the Leafs call him up around Game 40? Will he get traded for a haul? I would definitely prefer one over the other, but the time to promote Rosen is quickly approaching./