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Wednesday’s FTB: Regression has hit the Toronto Marlies

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Meanwhile Ovi gets closer to another milestone.

February 4, 2020, Coca-Cola Coliseum: Toronto Marlies defenseman Ben Harpur hits Belleville Senators forward Michael Carcone.
Credit: Thomas Skrlj - Toronto Marlies

How far down does the chasm go for the Toronto Marlies? They have five wins in their last 19 games since head coach Greg Moore started the job on December 21st, and they’ve lost their starting goaltender because the Leafs lost Frederik Andersen to an upper body injury (which is a much bigger deal in the grand scheme of things).

On Tuesday, the Marlies lost 3-1 to the North Division leading Belleville Senators, pushing them closer to the bottom of the division instead of up. They remain only one point back of Laval for fourth, but are only three points up on Binghamton, Cleveland, and Syracuse, two of whom have games in hand.

The first instinct here would be to blame the new coach for all the problems, but regression has come to rear its ugly head on these Marlies. They started so hot, and there was no reason for why they could sustain this pace. Lo and behold, they haven’t.

*18 games for Moore excludes the losing forfeit to the Texas Stars on January 10th. [Story]

Credit to Sheldon Keefe for seemingly being able to get so much out of this team that’s on paper really good but in reality punching above their weight class. The 2018-19 Marlies also had a ~45% shot share and Keefe’s team was somehow able to create and maintain leads despite score effects punching them into the ground. I never believed what he was doing was sustainable, but he found a way with good goaltending and 100% buy-in from a group of players who seem to universally love him, even after he left them for the big club.

I don’t know where the Marlies go from here, but for a team that can’t string together two good shifts unless they’re down by a couple in the third period, staying the course isn’t an option. Concern has definitely been mounting among Marlies fans.

Oh, and I know this would do the opposite of helping the Marlies, but call up Timothy Liljegren for Gard’s sakes.


Leafs Branches

  • The Maple Leafs recalled Kasimir Kaskisuo. Freddy Andersen missed practice and did not join the Leafs on their trip to New York.
  • Today’s game will also be the first for the Leafs new initiative: the Mentor’s Trip. Also known as an excuse for Keefe’s mother-in-law to like him and for Kyle Dubas to finally meet Max Kerman from the Arkells. (I say this with love!)
  • William Nylander and Auston Matthews played an adorable game about their teammates, among other things. You *have* to watch it.
  • And here’s a couple quick highlights from the aforementioned Marlies loss to the B-Sens.

Egor Korshkov’s goal.

And Egor Korshkov getting cross-checked in the neck. Don’t worry, he did return to the game, but keep an eye on AHL Communications, there likely will be a suspension for that.

And Greg Moore after the game, talking about Jeremy Bracco, Adam Brooks, among other things.

League-Wide Twigs

  • Alex Ovechkin scored a hat trick last night. Yes, another one. He’s two away from 700 and *only* 196 away from 894, the All-Time Record.
  • Joe Thornton also hit a milestone. 1,500 regular season points.
  • And lastly, never change, Naz.