The Marlies season continued last weekend hosting two teams from the U.S. in Toronto for the first time since early 2020. The result was a mixed performance of a bad loss on Saturday and a win in a shootout on Sunday.

Sunday’s game: 7-3 loss vs. Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabres affiliates)

Following up to an ugly loss the previous Sunday, the Marlies dropped the ball again on Saturday with an embarrassing 7-3 defeat by the Rochester Americans which Greg Moore noted was once again the result of the team not sticking to the game plan through the whole game, despite a good start to that early on.

The lines on Saturday were reshuffled from the previous week due to the absence of Nick Robertson who suffered a displaced fracture of his right fibula after a nasty fall in last Sunday’s game. Brett Seney was moved up to take Robertson’s place on the top line, which triggered a cascade of moves over all the lines, some of which were because Moore is still sorting out where to best slot in each player in the group as a whole this season.

Joesph Woll was not available to play Saturday, so the Marlies started Erik Källgren in net and Andrew D’Agostini as the backup. Källgren didn’t last long into the game.

The Amerks got off to a really hot start, scoring their first two goals in the first two and a half minutes, and then adding two more at which point Källgren was pulled and D’Agostini made his season debut. Källgren looked rattled but with Hutchinson gone, and Woll still sidelined, he was being asked to play at a high level, unexpectedly quickly and frequently against really good teams. He did well against the Moose, so I would not put any questions on his ability to backup at the AHL level at this time.

The game was a mess though, when you have situations like this come up where the defence backs up to the net while the forwards are chasing behind the play, it’s not a surprise that the Monsters were able to use some quick on the fly passing to setup a clear shot for #72, Ryan MacInnis (puck circled in red) and it went right in.

The highlights of this game past that point were pretty. As Greg Moore said, “this one stings.”

The fourth line was Clune-Douglas-Gabriel, which we will call the intimidation line, and they did their fair share of that at times, though once well behind they seemed to more scrambling around and throwing a lot of hits and taking penalties. I think at one point in the third I saw Clune land three hits in three seconds on three different players. I’m not sure how effective that is at turning around a game when you are down by four, but this was in the defensive zone, so it at least killed off some time and disrupted the Amerks attack enough to limit damage. Perhaps that kind of triage is all you can do at the point when you are down by four with only ten minutes left and the top lines looking lost at getting the scoring chance.

Brett Seney: He scored twice this game, which you can’t ignore as a good accomplishment even in a 7-3 loss. But he continues to look good. I am surprised as he wasn’t on my radar as one of the players who would be leading the charge of the team, but he fits right in with Joey Anderson, whom he has played with before. He’s at four goals in four games, so an impressive start.

Sunday’s game: 3-2 SOW vs. Cleveland Monsters (Columbus Blue Jackets affiliates)

Joseph Woll made his season debut in style after stopping 33 of 35 shots, including three in the shootout and four of five in the shootout, against a Cleveland team that on the whole looked like a more dangerous team. The Marlies put up a good effort — it was by no-means a one-sided game — but apart from a good first period they were seemingly fighting back instead of fighting with the lead. But they won, so I shouldn’t be too hard on them.

Marc Michaelis and Joey Anderson scored in regulation, with Josh Ho-Sang and Mikhail Abramov scoring in the shootout. Kirill Semyonov looked great, with Ho-Sang clearly identifying himself as the most dangerous forward. Filip Král on defense showed up really well in the Marlies equivalent of the Morgan Rielly role, playing really well offensively and showing improvement in lots of defensive minutes.

Apart from Ho-Sang on the power play and the odd shift at even strength, the Marlies first line was by far the only one that was able to push through the Monsters defense and get real offensive chances. Ho-Sang, as I mentioned, was great at making plays and opening up space, and I was impressed with Gogolev on the third line, but the lines weren’t quite deep enough. Young Mikhail Abramov has a lot going for him, but as a rookie he still has some development to work through in order to be more successful in the final third, namely in the strength category. He has the speed and smarts, he just got pushed around a bit too easily. I’m not worried about Abramov, it happens to every junior graduate.

Kirill Semyonov: This guy really likes his saucer passes, which is good because he can pull them off. He set up Anderson for the Marlies first goal, showed off the sauce a lot on the power play, and later in the game sent a five-foot high pass right to Dahlström’s stick. While the centre has been noted to do his own thing on the ice sometimes, I saw it less in this game than last week and the creativity was a boon far more than a detriment. He has a case to be in the NHL along with Ho-Sang in the right role.

Joseph Woll: Woll returned from injury after getting hurt during Leafs training camp. He played really well on Sunday, not giving up a goal in the third period when the Monsters had three, arguably five, really big chances on him. He tracked the puck really well and stayed up on his feet more (a critique I mentioned last year as a result of him being too rigid).

I was very impressed with his performance, including in the overtime when Ho-Sang made a high-reward play for a goal, leading to a chance the other way that Woll stopped with authority. He was great in the shootout, too, including making one nice glove save.

Filip Král: He had some good moments in both directions. We saw a lot of his skill on the power play, namely his ability to play at a high pace with someone who moves very fast in Josh Ho-Sang. Král has a strong shot and makes good passes. He definitely gained confidence and showed his assertiveness on the ice as Sunday’s game went on. Defensively, he looks stronger than he did last season as he was pushing guys around a lot more. Some of his mistakes are coming from play right around the net. He needs to improve his reflexes and make sure he doesn’t drift out of position as much as he did this weekend.

Game Lines and Highlights

Teemu Kivihalme and Mac Hollowell drew back into the lineup with Drew Hellickson and Joey Duszak getting the night off. At forward, Jack Kopacka took the stop of Kurtis Gabriel with Gogolev coming back in the lineup.

The Marlies next game is Wednesday in Laval against the Rocket at 7:30 p.m. ET.. They will play in Belleville against the Senators and Friday and return to Toronto for one game on Saturday before departing on a road trip through Upstate New York.