The Toronto Marlies hosted the Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay Lightning affiliates) at the Coliseum on Wednesday night, falling 4-2 to the last place team in the division. It was the Marlies third loss in a row; the previous two on a tough three-in-three road trip through the Atlantic Division last Friday through Sunday.

The North Division standing are still tight, and while the Comets incredible record still locks up first place, the Amerks have also pulled ahead of the pack, and the Marlies have further fallen behind a little bit.

Here are the North Division standings as of Thursday,

The Roster

There has been a huge turnover on the Marlies roster in recent days with the Leafs calling up players to fill open spots from both injuries and illness, most notably Marlies leading scorer Brett Seney who joined the Leafs in Edmonton only to be injured right away.

The Marlies themselves have players now sitting out for either testing positive for COVID, or for being a close contact or for a suspected case.

Per AHL protocols, the exact players and numbers are not known. Simply looking at players scratched isn’t a certain indication as some are out for injuries, which again in the AHL you do not have to disclose completely, unlike under NHL protocols.

In any case, here is the roster from Wednesday’s game.

The Marlies called in reinforcements from the Newfoundland Growlers to cover positions where players were moved up to the Maple Leafs. Goalie Keith Petruzzelli was brought back after a win in his first ever AHL game on November 27th. Also called up were winger Gordie Green, and defenceman Riley McCourt, though McCourt has recently been moved to a forward position on the Growlers during their own roster pinch, so he may be able to play that position for the Marlies if they need it.

We continue to await the return of Nick Robertson. Based on the projections from when he was injured, he should be returning at the end of this month. The Marlies could certainly use him, and it would be fun to see him back together with Josh Ho-Sang, but it’s entirely possible after perhaps a game or two to verify conditioning he could be called up to the Leafs out of necessity.

Wednesday’s Game

The Crunch are last in the division and were coming in to face a rested Marlies team. While their ranks are a bit depleted as noted above, it was still expected to be a win on the division calendar but it turned into a 4-2 loss.

The Crunch jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the game and basically never looked back. To be fair to the Marlies, this was a last place team that was playing one of its best games of the season for all 60 minutes.

A brief chance to turn things around came up when the Marlies used a power play opportunity to stay in the game, with Bobby McMann getting the first PP goal to make is 2-1

The Crunch scored early in the second period again, but the Marlies converted on another power play opportunity, this time it was Pavel Gogolev who got his third goal of the season.

The game would really be sealed in favour of the Crunch in the third when Semyon Der-Arguchintsev took a cross checking penalty and the Crunch went up 4-2. There wasn’t a consistent effort to get back from that until it was desperation time at the end of the game.

Here is the game highlight pack and Coach Greg Moore on the outcome.

Player Notes

Filip Král showed Daniel Walcott he can sure hit hard. The Marlies official roster has him listed at only 176 pounds and 6’1, but that seems a little small given his appearance up close. I think it’s quite out of date and may go back to when he was drafted in 2018 in the fifth round.

I have been somewhat underwhelmed by Mikhail Abramov so far, tough he has been quickly pressed into a larger role than most players fresh out of junior hockey would normally be asked to take on, being placed in situations like on Wednesday against the best players of the other team. However, there’s still a lot of “junior hockey” in his game, including some very odd attempted plays that I’m sure worked occasionally in the Q, but are not working t in the AHL. This isn’t a fatal flaw, it’s one that can be corrected with some more practice and patience to his game. I’ve seen it done before.

I still remember watching William Nylander trying ridiculous flashy drop passes back to literally no one at the blue line in his first season with the Marlies that may have worked in the SHL, but don’t on the smaller ice over here; but he quickly erased those out from his game over only a few months. I look forward to Abramov doing the same.

Next Games

UPDATE: The next three Marlies games are postponed indefinitely.

3 Marlies games postponed

The Marlies schedule has them on the road this coming weekend, heading to Grand Rapids, MI to face the Griffins (Detroit Red Wings affiliates) in back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday. They will be back at the Coliseum on Tuesday December 21 for a game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins which is their final game before the Christmas break.