The Toronto Marlies now face long odds to advance in the Calder Cup Playoffs after losing their first two games of the division final series to the Rochester Americans.
Game #1 was a close 4-3 loss on Thursday night, while Game #2 on Saturday was a lopsided 7-4 loss that was a mess of a game. The series is a best-of-five, so the Marlies now face elimination and will have to win three in a row to make a comeback.
But they have a reinforcement in the name of Joseph Woll. Woll joined the team after leaving to take the reigns of the Maple Leafs net in the playoffs when Ilya Samsonov was too injured to continue, and also Matt Murray was out, though it was far from his first turn at the Maple Leafs net. He's got an NHL career coming, but first he's going back to the AHL to play with the Marlies.
Of course, the starter for tonight's game isn't set though the fact he would return to the team when they have an away game and face elimination means it's almost certain he will be the starter.
Woll was the AHL All-Star goalie for the division, but even he has to be wary of Jiri Kulich. The Sabres first round draft pick from 2022 has five goals in five playoff games now, and already looks like he will be a future NHL star, despite that he only turned 19 years-old one month ago.
The Amerks also have their own excellent goalie and he's from Toronto with a familiar last name. Malcolm Subban has been a force in net for the Amerks this this series and he has a 0.912 all-situations sv% in seven playoff games now. The Marlies rely a lot on high-powered offence and scoring on the power play to get past him. Indeed, all four goals they scored in Saturday's 7-4 loss were on the power play.
Critical for the team is the "consistency" that has been much discussed by Greg Moore, who noted after Thursday's game the team was only able "to get spurts there" and if they would "get back to the plan," they would be able to succeed. Clearly that didn't happen in the 7-4 loss on Saturday.
During their series against the Comets, the Marlies allowed two goals against in the first period in both the first two game Starts as slow as that have not happened this series which is a positive sign, but scoring first is still going to be a critical target for the team.
The series is still winnable for the Marlies as losing the first two in a best-of-five presents a big challenge. but not an insurmountable one. If they step on the ice ready to go tonight, and don't immediately drop a goal to the other team, they have the first and most difficult step done to stay alive. Either way, elimination games are always intimidating, and and end to the playoff run of the top team in the division would be quite disappointing.
The Amerks are going to fight hard to end the series, but it's not over until it's over. Tonight's game starts at 7:00 p.m. ET.