On the second half of a back-to-back (including travel) the Toronto Marlies lost a sloppy game to the Binghamton Devils by a score of 7-5.
Sam Gagner led the Marlies with two goals and a primary assist, Trevor Moore and Andreas Borgman would each score a goal in the third period to make it close, but the Marlies would eventually fall short. Backup Jeff Glass stopped 31 of 37, but the sheer quality of chances the Marlies defense allowed was just too much.
Borgman was the best defenseman on the Marlies by a mile, but he was unfortunately paired with the worst defenseman in game; Vincent LoVerde. LoVerde has been a great defenseman for the Marlies for the past season and a bit, but I’m sure he would agree that tonight simply was not his night.
But back to Borg. The 23-year-old defenseman looked so confident on and off the puck all night. He had a goal in this game following several good opportunities all night, he was strong in his skating, which allowed him to keep his gaps close and be on top of the Devils forwards all night, and he kept up his physicality, especially on the penalty kill, where he was pretty much mistake free.
Full credit where credit’s due. The New Jersey Devils organization has done an amazing job filling their depth chart with young and exciting players. Five of the goals were scored by players 21-years-old and younger, 2016 second-round pick Nathan Bastian had two goals and three shots on his own.
Carl Grundstrom - Chris Mueller - Sam Gagner
Dmytro Timashov - Adam Cracknell - Trevor Moore
Pierre Engvall - Josh Jooris - Jeremy Bracco
Emerson Clark - Colin Greening - JJ Piccinich
Calle Rosen - Timothy Liljegren
Andreas Borgman - Vincent LoVerde
Andrew Nielsen - Jordan Subban
Jeff Glass returns to the net for the Toronto Marlies, making his third career start for the team. Glass was originally a third-round pick of the Ottawa Senators (and star in Canada’s World Junior victory in 2005), but was shunted to the KHL by 2010 after four tough seasons in the AHL.
In 2016-17, he came back, made two starts with the Marlies before finally finding his way into the NHL for the first time at the age of 32 with the Chicago Blackhawks. Now The Glass is back with the Marlies on an AHL contract, in the role of backing up Kasimir Kaskisuo.
Liljegren is still only a teenager, so physically, there is still room to grow for him. However, when it comes to his on-ice awareness and smarts, he clearly has taken a big step from the day he was drafted with the Marlies. We got an example of both those things on a play five minutes into the first.
Liljegren grabbed the puck in his own zone and went off on a skate toward the offensive zone. He was so close to making it through all five players, but just lost too much momentum before the last defender. He was pushed to the wall and subsequently lost the puck as well as his stick.
As the play went on, Liljegren got up and tried to get to the bench, but bailed on that plan so he could be one of the few players back defending an odd-man rush. With him back, Timashov was able to be a little more aggressive and was able to steal the puck and go away for a 2-on-1, and nearly scored.
It’s little things like that that make me optimistic of Liljegren; he’s quick on his feet, smart in pressure situations, and only going to get better as he gets older and stronger.
Gagner started this play with a great zone entry with numbers, he cut to the opposite side of the net, drawing defenders to him in the process, before whipping a pass through the heart of the crease to Mueller, who sneaked around the back of the net, and scored from a tight angle. Nice play by Nielsen to get into the play and try to make some space for his forwards with his size.
Sam Gagner set up Chris Mueller with a beauty backdoor pass in Binghamton.#MarliesLive pic.twitter.com/JX5gj0AZEQ— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) October 7, 2018
On the power play with Nielsen in the box for holding, Marian Studenic grabbed the puck at the half-wall, juked LoVerde into the ice, and sniped low far side on Glass. The Marlies were pretty much all in position, and simply got beat by talent there. Studenic is a fifth-round pick by the Devils, and helped the Hamilton Bulldogs win the OHL Championship. Now at 19-years-old, he’s become a key part of the Devils’ new rush of young talent.
On then next shift, Devils first-round pick Michael McLeod took a shot from the wing that went wide and rang around the boards. Gagner picked it up and went off on a 2-on-1 with Grundstrom. The rest is in the video. Gosh, Gagner is too good for the AHL, it’s a shame with his family and contract situation — the former of which is a private matter — that Gagner can’t play in the NHL. He deserves to be there.
.@89SGagner winds up and delivers with a drive from the dot for his first of the night. #MarliesLive pic.twitter.com/Nsc8Eb9G5d— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) October 7, 2018
Not long after, Rosen and Moore got their signals mixed up while defending a 3-on-3 rush by the Devils. Colton White (not sure if he’s related to Colin, or the other million whites in the NHL) stepped into the slot and wired a shot past Glass.
LoVerde would once again get caught with the puck in his feet and thusly out of the play, allowing the Devils to pounce on the puck and eventually Nick Lappin would score. Borgman did his best to try and cover for his teammate, but there was only so much he could do.
BNG makes it 3-2. Not a great first 20 for Jeff Glass. pic.twitter.com/0RHWhsNxIR— Jacob Stoller (@JLStoller) October 6, 2018
The Marlies didn’t have a great first period, their veterans —okay, Gagner — helped them get a few goals, but defensively, they’ve seemed overwhelmed by the skill that Binghamton has. The one defenseman I’ve liked so far in this game is Borgman. He’s been very confident on the ice, with and without the puck. He has been very quick in his decision-making at both blue-lines, nearly had a goal in the first, and has had to bail out his partner LoVerde a few times on the other side of the ice.
If the Leafs need a LHD — I’m not saying Hainsey, but Hainsey — Borgman should be the guy to get the call. He might be too good for the AHL, but we’re only four periods into the season so I don’t want to say for sure. But I’m certainly leaning that way.
Gagner again! With the Marlies on the power play, Gagner took his spot in the high slot — the Kadri spot, if you will. Mueller and Grundstrom did a great job of causing the attention of the Devils to be closer to the goal line, allowing a pocket of space for Gagner to walk into, and walk into it he did. And, yes, that’s his third point of the night.
Gagner rips a shot from the slot for his second of the night. #MarliesLive pic.twitter.com/ZNMcAxzZC2— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) October 7, 2018
Subban and Nielsen get embarrassingly out-worked at the side of the net, and former Mississauga Steelheads forward Nathan Bastian chipped the puck up and over Glass. Earlier in the play, Moore and Mueller got caught too high up in the neutral zone, and weren’t able to come back and help their teammates. Gagner was also on the ice for the goal against, but I’ll give him a pass because he was the high forechecker.
Greening nearly scored as the Marlies started to get some momentum going back the other way. The team has found it hard to get the puck out of their own zone, partially because the Devils did a good job being on the Marlies constantly, but most of the blame should be towards the defensemen for not moving the puck quick enough, and forwards for blowing the zone way too often. Shades of the Leafs’ preseason rang strong in the second period.
The Devils attempted to get into the Marlies’ zone, but Liljegren was there to push the Binghamton forward off the puck. However, in the same motion, Liljegren gave the puck away with a weak clear — despite his defense partner Rosen being an outlet via behind the net — and Yegor Sharangovich was able to feed Blake Speers for a simple tap in. Rosen was too far away to catch Speers because he was trying to be an outlet for Liljegren. And just like that, all the momentum from the end of the period is gone.
The Marlies were bad in this period. If Gagner wasn’t in the lineup, it would be 5-0 at this point. The Marlies were out-shot 10-14 in the period, and now trail 3-5 in the game.
Moore has not had a good game. He’s looked slightly out of focus all game, and for a player who is always in the right spot defensively, he’s a minus-3. LoVerde hasn’t been very good either in this game. He’s gotten walked several times, forcing his partner Borgman to try and cover two players at once.
Borgman has done a valiant job so far — his first period was great — but in the second, he was caught trying to make a big hit in open ice one too many times for my liking and has lost all the good karma he earned following the first 20 minutes.
This is where literally all video GIFs of this game ceased to exist. I’ll try to tweet some clips from AHL TV later, but this is all time-willing. Keep an eye on my Twitter!
Right at the start of the third, the game went from bad to worse. Glass, who was doing okay, all things considered, went out of his net to try and play the puck. Obviously he missed it and as he scrambled to get back, Bastian got his second of the night.
Moore took bad penalty two minutes before this goal happened. Long story short, he got caught behind on a odd-man rush by the Devils and took a slashing penalty. However, as he was released from the penalty box, Moore stayed in the neutral zone so that Rosen could feed him a stretch pass for a breakaway. With Timashov as a decoy, Moore stepped in and sniped on Johnson to bring the Marlies back within two.
Well I’ll be damned, it looks like the kids are helping bring this team back into what could easily have been considered an indisputable loss. Borgman literally just picked up a D-to-D pass from LoVerde, stepped into some space created by an overload in the corner, and wired a shot past Johnson. In other news, the B-Devils in-arena host’s voice is so grating oh my god make it stop.
The Marlies would get close, power play with four minutes left and Gagner nearly scored following a failed zone exit by the Devils. With a little more than a minute left in regulation, Glass was pulled, Borgman and Bracco each had a chance, but Johnson was able to stop Bracco with the glove and end the immediate threat.
Then, Timashov has his own chance, but it was blocked and Blake Pietila scored on the empty net.
The Marlies now bus home and get ready for their home opener at 3pm on Monday afternoon. See you at the banner raising and Happy Thanksgiving!