The Marlies were busy last weekend playing three games in three days, Friday night in Rochester, Saturday afternoon at the Scotiabank arena, and finally on Sunday at the Coliseum. The team came out with two solid wins with 17 goals scored over those three games.

The four standings points accumulated last weekend against other teams from the North Division were a boost to the their rank in the standings as the competition for better playoff berths in the division is fierce. The end of the season is now in sight, about 30 days away, and the team has very little margin left for slip-ups.

Here are the North Division standings as of this morning:

There's enough games left that no team is yet a lock or eliminated, but at this point Cleveland (Columbus Blue Jackets affiliates) and Syracuse (Tampa Bay Lightning affiliates) would have to go on a really big losing streak to not make it into the playoffs, though interestingly those two teams do not have any more games against each other this season, so there is no scenario where one of them has to beat the other and one walks away with the standings points.

The real contest is for that third place spot which lets a team bypass the dreaded play-in round for teams at fourth and fifth place; a quick best-of-three tournament that you would want to skip if you can and instead go directly to the "real" start of the playoffs where you play second place in the division.

Tonight, the Marlies start another tough three-in-three weekend again, and when it's over their playoff picture will be much more clear. They will face some of the same teams they saw last weekend with one rare visitor to Toronto; the schedule is as follows:

Friday: Marlies @ Rochester Americans 7:00 p.m. in Rochester
Saturday: Marlies vs. Hartford Wolf Pack 4:00 p.m. at the Coliseum
Sunday: Marlies vs. Laval Rocket, 4:00 p.m. at the Coliseum

The three-in-three is always tough, especially when one is an away game as that drive to and from Rochester on the QEW is always longer than you expect and for good measure there's a snow storm right on time for their trip back to Toronto.

Logan Shaw said he was thankful that there's limited three-in-three weekends this season, far less than he has played in past seasons or for other AHL teams in his long careerm adding "it doesn't get easier as you get older, for sure," while noting the team was fortunate with "how well we get treated here [in Toronto]," helping to dull the physical impact it has on you.

Marlies coach John Gruden had several players in all three games, while others appeared in only two or one. He said "we try to have a plan, and try not to deviate from it regardless the outcome [of games]," noting defenceman Topi Nimelä scratched on Saturday was a planned day-off, and further added this approach would continue through the next month, saying "we're going to have to do the same things as we move forward to the playoffs so guys can get in some rest as we lead up to that time."

One final note about the upcoming games is on Saturday the Marlies face the Wolf Pack and they will have our old friend Nic Petan on their roster, freshly traded to the Rangers organisation from the Wild.

Rangers Acquire Nic Petan From Minnesota
In Chris Drury’s second trade of the day, the Rangers dealt Wolf Pack veteran Turner Elson to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Nic Petan. A former second round pick (43rd overall by Winnipeg) Nic…

You know what to rhyme in the comments.

Last Weekend

The three-in-three last weekend started with a 5-3 loss to the Americans in Rochester on Friday evening. Dennis Hildeby was in net with a performance below the expectations we've been accustomed to setting for him, but that's what happens with averages and he would offset this game with Sunday's win.

In this game we did have a goal from Roni Hirvonen, his first of two on the weekend as his scoring finally ramps-up after a slow start from the long time out injured. He is at three goals in his past six games now.


The Marlies played the Amerks again, but this game was back in Toronto at the Scotiabank Arena. It was one of their two St. Patrick's Day games where they put on their custom green uniforms and they certainly took to heart the Irish spirit.

Luke Cavallin was in net for the Marlies and got the W in a 7-3 rout, though there was one moment which is only amusing in hindsight with the win. On this play Cavallin returns from playing the puck behind the net, but then somehow gets the shaft of his stick stuck inside the netting and can't get it out, as play continues he gives up and tries to keep going while his stick is amusingly propped up like a pinball machine paddle, but unfortunately it's on the wrong side of the net to help him.


The Marlies absolutely trounced the Laval Rocket on Saturday, winning 7-1 in a game filled with fights and lots of PIM. Dennis Hildeby was back in net and this time he stopped 30 of 31 shots bringing his weekend

Two fun goals were from Nick Abruzzese on the power play left totally uncovered by the Laval defence:

And Joe Blandisi racking up even more points, finishing at 23 goals and 29 assists in 52 games so far in the season.

Travel Reminder

If you were planning on heading to the Marlies game by GO Transit, or to see any event downtown this weekend, a reminder there is a total shutdown of the Lakeshore West GO train service on both days for all stations from Hamilton to Union. This isn't one of those frequent reductions in service, it is a complete closure. There will be a replacement bus shuttle that will serve only some stations, and I wish you good luck getting on one of those!

Bus service between Aldershot GO and Union Station
No rail service on the Lakeshore West line. GO buses will replace rail service at some stations.