As the Toronto Marlies headed off on their annual Toronto Boat Show road trip, they were forced to leave one of their more interesting prospects behind at home. More on that later. Once arriving in Cedar Park, Texas, things went from bad to worse as 39-year-old assistant coach Rob Davison suffered a “prolonged grand mal seizure” right before warm ups on Saturday.
Kyle Dubas, Laurence Gilman, Greg Moore, and the leadership group on the Marlies then decided to forfeit from the game as the players and staff were experiencing shock and discomfort in having to play after such a scary incident for all involved. Katya has everything you need to know on this story in her article here. We were relieved to hear that Davison was discharged from hospital the next morning and is back in Toronto resting.
Back to that interesting prospect missing the road trip: Egor Korshkov. The 23-year-old left/right winger had missed seven games during the month of December while recovering from a right leg laceration he had suffered in a game against the San Antonio Rampage. He came back in the new year and played four games for the Marlies, but when he failed to show up in the lineup for either game over the weekend, we got concerned.
We have since learned from the team that Korshkov “did not travel with the team due to his lower leg laceration injury.” The team had brought up Colt Conrad up to the Marlies from Newfoundland before the road trip so they should be okay in terms of depth while in the USA, but this injury reappearing is definitely not ideal.
As per Todd Crocker, Egor Korshkov is out because his leg laceration hasn't fully healed.— Mark (@MarkUkLeaf) January 12, 2020
Once Korshkov is ready to be medically cleared the process to come back still might not be as easy as we are hoping for as Korshkov will likely have to condition his leg back up to working strength. A fellow winger currently dealing with a laceration, Ilya Mikheyev, doesn’t have the same issue as he can still work out on the bike while his wrist heals. Here’s hoping Korshkov is back soon, his size and skillset are desperately needed on the Marlies, if not the Leafs.
Friday @ Texas (0-1 loss — forfeit)
A lot of Friday night was waiting and hoping for good news on the Rob Davison front. His health was of primary concern for everyone involved in the hockey community. Luckily he’s okay, so that’s great news.
The secondary thought on people’s minds during that night was the official status of the game that was supposed to have been played. First, the game was delayed due to weather as it was snowing in parts of Texas — there might’ve been a tornado watch in one area, too. The next update we got was that an ambulance had been brought to the rink and a staff member had been taken away, which ended up being Davison. For a while, we thought this was either going to be a cancelled game, with a new date for the rematch coming soon.
After deliberations between the Marlies, Stars, and the League, it was decided the Marlies would forfeit the game as their team was not fit to compete. This is outlined in sections 66.1 and 73.1 in the AHL Rulebook. I have a thread on this that was a little snippy for obvious reasons.
AHL statement regarding tonight's Marlies-Stars game: pic.twitter.com/wf3sXg172c— AHL Communications (@AHLPR) January 11, 2020
“Per AHL Rule 66.1, the Stars have been awarded a 1-0 victory.”
No personal stats will be awarded for this game, but the team results have been updated.
Saturday @ Texas (5-3 loss)
This was the first game for Rasmus Sandin after returning from the Czech Republic with a Bronze Medal in the 2020 World Juniors. He was thrown right back onto the first pair with his usual partner, Timothy Liljegren, who has been on a tear without his fellow Swede. Liljegren has 10 points (2g, 8a) and 11 shots in his last eight games without Sandin and a combination of Martin Marincin, Mac Hollowell, and Teemu Kivihalme.
Elsewhere in the lineup, Giovanni Fiore skated in his third game with the team on a scoring line with Kenny Agostino and Nic Petan.
Fun fact. This is also the first game of the season where both Ben Harpur and Jordan Schmaltz did not play. I can’t say I was disappointed considering the speed and skill the team ended up showing in the game.
Pontus Aberg - Kalle Kossila - Jeremy Bracco
Kenny Agostino - Nic Petan - Giovanni Fiore
Garrett Wilson - Tyler Gaudet - Tanner MacMaster
Rich Clune - Hudson Elynuik - Scott Pooley
Rasmus Sandin - Timothy Liljegren
Teemu Kivihalme - Jesper Lindgren
Kristians Rubins - Mac Hollowell
0-1 (Tanner Kero - PP)
I’ve liked Lindgren through the first half of the season, he’s been a solid average defenseman in the AHL and I’ve seen flashes of what he’s trying to do on offense in terms of jumping up in the rush or moving to positive shot locations. He historically likes to shoot, but he’s been doing less of this season, which I guess is a good thing in terms of overall performance.
Unfortunately, he took the game’s first penalty, which the Stars scored on. I’ll post the highlights of the game from Texas’ perspective, which has this goal in one of the clips. Overall, I think the Marlies could be better in those scrambles in front of the net. They didn’t do Kaskisuo any favours leaving Kero on the back door for the tap-in.
1-1 (Rich Clune)
CLUUUUUNE!!! That’s three goals in 11 games this season for Clune, all of his scoring coming in his latest six games. Clune has gotten more ice time under head coach Greg Moore, playing four times in the first 10 contests under the new coach. I’m a big fan of this move.
I’ve linked the boxscore at the bottom of this game. Take a look at the shot maps for both teams in the first period. Either the off-ice officials weren’t particularly accurate with respect to where the shots were going or everything was a pass to the slot and a rebound in the first period.
First Period stats for Game #37. #Marlies @ Texas Stars— Hardev Lad (@HardevLad) January 12, 2020
Scoring Chances: 9-10
Goals: 1-1 (Clune 💪)
Literally no defense in this period. Just two massive red blobs in front of the two nets. The farthest shot came from Stephen Johns and his rebound went in lol
Marlies power play looks busy, with lots of passing and skating, but they were only able to manage a couple shots from the perimeter without any traffic in front and no pre-shot movement. Teams have quickly figured out that they need to take away the middle of the zone for those cross-ice passes and they’ll be fine against the five small skaters around them. There’s no size.
In general, I’m mildly skeptical when people evaluate small players highly because often they’re players who look quick and busy, but they’re not actually accomplishing as much as they seem. This was my reservation with Trevor Moore when I had seen both he and Andreas Johnsson use their small size in different ways in the AHL. It’s also why I have some hesitations towards calling Nick Robertson the next Martin St. Louis, despite all my love for him.
I need to see these guys push to the middle of the ice and make defenders move out of position to stop them. And while I disagree that he has top-six talent in the AHL, this is something Tanner MacMaster does well and earns points because of it. 17 points in 35 games is respectable.
1-2 (Stephen Johns - PP)
Johns is an NHL player with a massive slapshot. He used that to great effect right off a faceoff win at the start of a Stars power play. It helps when the shot gets tipped in front by your own defenseman. I think it was Liljegren. Unfortunate.
To make up for the accidental tip, Liljegren played a great game all over the ice. He was dynamic, fast, and pushing the play in a forward direction. This is just one sample of what I thought was a really good game.
Liljegren makes a nice read and beats two forwards before almost tying the game up. pic.twitter.com/D5xJolWRNy— Nick DeSouza (@NickDeSouza_) January 12, 2020
The shots were heavily in Toronto’s favour in this period, but in reality, they spent six minutes on the power play and never really looked dangerous once. They didn’t trouble the goalie or get the defense out of position. Overall, it was a quite disappointing offensive period.
Second Period stats. #Marlies @ Texas Stars— Hardev Lad (@HardevLad) January 12, 2020
Scoring Chances: 12-3
Marlies took eight shots on the power play, most of them scoring chances, and yet never looked dangerous. They need a net-front presence and someone who can open up the middle of the zone.
I’m not going to take back what I said above about the power play because structurally, the Marlies power play isn’t designed to target the heavy areas of the ice. What the Marlies did fix in the third with these two Petan goals was winning the faceoff and getting the puck to the net from the point before the defenders got in position.
2-2 (Nic Petan - PP)
From the faceoff win by Kossila, Sandin and Agostino spread out well and Agostino sent a well-placed shot-pass to the front of the net that created the scramble. Kossila and Petan did good work in the blue paint, earning themselves a goal.
3-2 (Nic Petan - PP)
Again, a faceoff win and a quick shot to the net from the point that let Petan pounce before the defenders could settle into their system. From a stationary start, the Marlies aren’t great at creating chances, but they are damn good off set plays like faceoffs.
And that’s when things started to fall apart for the Marlies. They had their lead, but they couldn’t support enough of the defensive zone to secure it for the win.
3-3 (Jason Robertson)
First, Nick Robertson’s brother stole the puck from Liljegren while he was in the motion of shooting the puck from the point. From the bad turnover, it was a breakaway for Robertson, who made Kaskisuo look silly.
Kaskisuo had a good start to the season, but his save percentage has slowly been dropping as the season turns into a grind. 21 saves on 25 shots in the loss in this game. Now he’s hovering around .910. Meanwhile, interestingly, Joseph Woll is slowly improving as the season goes on. I think I need to write about the goalies at some point this week or during the bye-week. That’s a promise.
3-4 (Tye Felhaber)
Felhaber scored the game-winning goal a few minutes as the Marlies got caught too soft on bodies and sticks in the defensive zone. Everyone was relatively in the right position, but no one was doing anything to stop the forwards around them. Too much standing around.
3-5 (Michael Mersch - ENG)
And then the empty-net goal. That’s the game.
Sunday @ San Antonio (6-1 win)
The only lineup changes for the Toronto Marlies in the second game of the back-to-back was Darren Archibald coming in for Hudson Elynuik, Nic Petan and Kalle Kossila switching lines, and Jordan Schmaltz coming in for the regularly impressive Jesper Lindgren so he can play his former team. Joseph Woll got the start and boy did he look good by the end of it.
Pontus Aberg - Nic Petan - Jeremy Bracco
Kenny Agostino - Kalle Kossila - Giovanni Fiore
Garrett Wilson - Tyler Gaudet - Darren Archibald
Rich Clune - Tanner MacMaster - Scott Pooley
Rasmus Sandin - Timothy Liljegren
Teemu Kivihalme - Jordan Schmaltz
Kristians Rubins - Mac Hollowell
This game was a blowout from pretty much the get-go. The San Antonio Rampage are not a good team defensively and they showed as much in this one. Instead of going beat-by-beat, I’ll just compile the goals for and the goal against then talk about Joseph Woll’s performance at the end.
1-0 (Tanner MacMaster - PP)
This was nearly another multi-point night for Timothy Liljegren when he got the secondary assist on Archibald’s power play goal, but a review after this goal proved that MacMaster stole it. The power play in this game, particularly the second unit with Liljegren, was much better, exploiting the size of Archibald and tenacity of MacMaster.
2-0 (Scott Pooley)
Why has Scott Pooley been in the ECHL all this time? That was a great display of speed and a quality shot for the 26-year-old.
3-0 (Nic Petan - PP)
Again, the Marlies worked the middle of the ice, forcing the defense to collapse and move out of position to cover players. They reset quickly and get Petan wide open at the side of the net. There has never been a question in terms of finishing for this team, especially Petan, they all just need to get in the right position to exploit their skills.
4-0 (Pontus Aberg)
At this point, the game was getting a little silly. Aberg made some good moves to get in the offensive zone, following it up with a drive to the outside before dummying the goalie with a shot off his back and in.
5-0 (Garrett Wilson)
The Rampage kept Ville Husso in net through this goal and for the rest of the second, but he was gone once the third period started. Here, Liljegren showed some really good offensive instincts and awareness. Who said this kid can’t score? Great tip in front from Wilson, getting in the right position and capitalizing on the tip.
6-0 (Scott Pooley)
At what point do we start sending AHL teams memos saying “don’t let that fourth liner wearing #37 walk in on you at speed” because Pooley could’ve had a hat trick with his one “signature” move alone.
6-1 (Mike Vecchione - PP)
Sadly, the Marlies couldn’t get the hat trick for Pooley, nor could they get the shut out for Joseph Woll, who was really strong tonight. Unfortunately, in the midway point of the third, Vecchione scored a power play goal to break what could’ve been Woll’s second shutout of the season. It was one small flaw in an otherwise exquisite night.
I’ve put all my thoughts on Woll and his performance in another post that should go up shortly after this one.
Joseph Woll seems determined to keep his 'you know what' going with this terrific save, Marlies still up 4-0. pic.twitter.com/nbEb5hN9em— Wipe the slate, clear the canvas part 2 (@RodBlanchard) January 12, 2020
Don't know if this is the one you mean, but it's still a great point blank stop by Woll. pic.twitter.com/S6iDioIf8z— Wipe the slate, clear the canvas part 2 (@RodBlanchard) January 12, 2020
- Joseph Woll is developing nicely.
- I’m a little worried we saw a spike in Kaskisuo’s performance starting in the final stretch run before the playoffs last year and that magic has worn off somewhat. I definitely think Woll has played like the better goalie as recently as the last month or so. I’ll delve into this more sometime soon.
- Timothy Liljegren is about as consistent as Rasmus Sandin, and has about as much upside as him too. I expect both to be in the NHL this year.
- Speaking of, Sandin has indeed been called up to the Maple Leafs. That makes one!
- After about a year of complaining, I’m starting to come around on Tanner MacMaster and what he can bring to the AHL team. He works hard and goes to the difficult areas with the puck. That’s what you want to see from your small wingers. We saw it out of Johnsson and Engvall and look where they are now, right?/