“Blech.” That’s the only word Joey Anderson could come up with to describe the third period for the Toronto Marlies last night against the Laval Rocket where they turned a 5-1 lead in the second period into a 6-5 shootout loss on Wednesday night. “It’s not acceptable,” he added, “we let [Mike Hutchinson] down.”

The embarrassing result comes on the heels of two successful weekends on the road, the first through Upstate New York, and then a visit to the AHL Western Conference to play the Chicago Wolves, through all of which the Marlies won three of four games.

That final game last Sunday in Chicago included this literal last second goal by Semyon Der-Arguchintsev in OT, captured in this amazing high-res photo by Dale Woltman where you can actually see the puck going through between the goalies arm and body toward the net.

Here is the replay of that same spectacular goal.

All that was spectacular about Wednesday night was how badly the team collapsed in the third period. The Marlies are actually second in the division right now, on a PTS% basis, but you can see the standings are very close outside of the Utica Comets (New Jersey Devils affiliates) who are running away with first place with a perfect record.

The Roster

Here was the lineup on Wednesday night.

The top lines are more or less the same with the exception of Joey Anderson who had spent a week up on assignment to the Maple Leafs, though he didn’t actually play in any games. Kirill Semyonov was also called up and remains there as of today. He has drawn into a few Leafs games.

There is also one unexpected and still pending addition to the team in Kyle Clifford.

Leafs acquire forward Kyle Clifford for future considerations

Clifford played for the Leafs in the shortened 2019-20 season, and he obviously left a good impression on the Leafs management, but the cap space crunch meant they could not keep him even though they wanted to. He left as a free agent and signed with the St. Louis Blues, but after a month they decided not to keep him up with the team and placed him on waivers to send to the AHL. Clearly, some kind of arrangement was made to bring him back to Toronto since the what the Leafs sent back in the trade was the always mysterious “future considerations,” but as of Wednesday he wasn’t playing and probably had not even arrived here as he would need some time to wind up his affairs in St. Louis before crossing the continent to return to living in Toronto.

Erik Källgren was injured in Wednesday’s game, requiring some help off the ice and back to the locker room. It’s unclear how bad it is at this point. The Marlies have since recalled Keith Petruzzelli from the Newfoundland Growlers, who has had significant success this season.

The Growlers have in-turn signed their own new goalie, Kris Oldham, who is a 24 year-old NCAA graduate.

Wednesday’s Game

“We have a bunch of guys who aren’t listening.” - Greg Moore

It started out so well. The Marlies were so on top of things in the first period with two quick goals. They held it together right through in the second period as well, with another three goals putting them up 5-1, though they all came at even strength despite the Rocket giving the Marlies multiple power play opportunities. Then Källgren was injured, and Michael Hutchinson replaced him in net. The third period started with the Marlies up 5-2, and ended with the game tied 5-5. It was painful to watch, especially with the Rocket getting a shorthanded goal in the process.

Moore’s comments post-game were uncharacteristically direct, saying “We have a lot of guys who play as individuals on the power play ... A.J. (MacLean) has done a great job of delivering the message; we have a bunch of guys who aren’t listening.”

A.J. MacLean is the assistant coach who has been with the team since 2015, serving in the role under both Greg Moore and Sheldon Keefe.

Moore very much looked like he wanted to say some names, but he held his tongue. For the record, here was the power play unit playing during when the Rocket scored their shorthanded goal:
Brett Seney - Semyon Der-Arguchintsev - Joey Anderson - Alex Steeves
Joey Duszak

After one minute of PP time, the puck went back behind the Leafs net and the Marlies on the ice started to change off for the second power play unit. Duszak was the last one out from the first unit. HE collected the puck from behind the net and then started to carry it forward up the ice, close to the bench wall so that he could change off with Filip Král on the fly. Once he got close to the bench he ripped a pass across the ice to Josh Ho-Sang who looks like he was planning to receive it while skating forward, but he bobbled it. He was already covered by a Rocket player who easily picked off the loose puck and then had a clear breakaway to score while Král and the other players who had just changed on were struggling to do anything as they were so far back on the play.

Note, while this particular play stood out to me, this loss is too big a burden to place on any one back.

Joey Anderson also noted the same with respect to the power play, saying “that was a turning point for us.” The missed opportunity allowed the momentum of the game to tilt in Laval’s favour, allowed them to score enough in the third period to make force OT, and that was it for the game.

All that said, there was a positive to pick out of the game in the continued successful offence from Brett Seney and Josh Ho-Sang, both recording their seventh goals of the season in this game. The way they are both lighting it up consistently has really helped the Marlies this season.

Here’s the game highlight pack.

This Weekend’s Games

The Marlies are at the Coliseum this weekend, playing the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon—the team with the Pokemon logo—and also home to Linus Sandin, brother of the Leafs’ Rasmus; then they play the Cleveland Monsters on Sunday afternoon at 4:00 p.m..