The Marlies road trip came to a close in Rochester, and with it the goalie experimenting out of sight of the main phalanx of the Toronto media.
The Marlies haven’t beaten the Amerks yet this year in two previous games, and they chose Karri Ramo to start in this third try at it after two rough outings of his own as a Marlie. Backing him up was Garret Sparks.
Todd Crocker had the rest of the lines as usual:
Lines vs Rochester
Lindberg Froese Smith
Rychel Cliche Clune
Johnsson Gauthier Kapanen
Greening Laich Maggio
Pairings vs Amerks
With Brendan Leipsic still hurt, the Marlies got Frederik Gauthier back from injury, and he had the very effective, yet point-challenged Andreas Johnsson with him as well as usual winger Kasperi Kapanen.
A bad giveaway by The Amerks give the Marlies a chance right away; the Rochester team didn’t even look ready to play, and yet Linus Ullmark somehow managed to make the save.
The Marlies gave up a terrible giveaway just at the zone exit, and Justin Holl came back alone on a two on one, while the forwards were still moving up ice. Ramo had no chance, and the score was 1-0 Amerks not even five minutes in.
The Amerks had multiple chances, and Ramo looked strong for the rest of the period. Justin Bailey seemed like he had a scoring chance every two minutes or so.
The Marlies were not flying quite so well. They got a good fourth line shift with the best pressure of the game just before the halfway point. Daniel Maggio is good at digging the puck out behind the net and he can obviously play a very clean style if he wants to. He’s in the lineup because of his hard, clean play in the last game, not just the points he scored.
The Marlies were caught chasing a giveaway breakaway, sort of their specialty in this game, and the only defence Rinat Valiev has resulted in a holding penalty.
The penalty kill crew did the job, and the short-handed breakaway by Colin Greening was the best scoring chance of the period to that point. The Marlies penalty kill is not very successful overall, but part of that is the goaltending they usually get short-handed, which isn’t good.
Johnsson drew a penalty by working hard and doing good things with the puck. He is cooking, and he should have a dozen goals, but there is no should in hockey. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen.
The power play unit had one good session with a good setup, and then they struggled to ever fully control the puck again. The Amerks were disrupting their play very effectively.
The rest of the period was some up and down play, and Ullmark had to be sharp a few times. Shots on goal were 12-11 Marlies. Playing even with the Amerks is exactly how good the Marlies are with their current lineup minus Leipsic.
Johnsson and Kapanen seemed to click with Gauthier well.
Kerby Rychel had some moments after not having many for a few games.
Ramo started the period with a good save, but but his puck control after the save is lacking. He’s tracking, and he isn’t scrambling, but he is not ready for prime time yet.
The Amerks took a bad offensive zone penalty while Rich Clune was doing the digging for the puck behind the net and it was power play time again for the Marlies. They spent a long time below their own goal line battling the Amerks tough defenders, who had turned into tough offensive players. The Marlies had one good chance by the end of the power play.
The Amerks worked the puck down the ice right after their successful kill, and outplayed every Marlie that tried to stop them. Travis Dermott was mostly just watching, and so was Ramo. He was squared up, fully down in butterfly, so not going anywhere in a hurry on a play that had more than one potential shooter involved. He was beat easily high glove. 2-0 Amerks.
Justin Vaive decided to prove himself by ramming Maggio into the boards. I think Maggio has ejectors on his gloves because they were off, he was swinging, and Vaive did that thing where he pinned Maggio’s hand by holding his jersey sleeve down. So I guess we know what he proved. The Marlies took to the power play thanks to the the boarding minor Vaive got in addition to the fighting majors.
Tobias Lindberg got a goal on the power play with a little bit of footwork. The puck was right on his Swedish-soccer-playing foot, and he didn’t really kick it much while he was trying to get his stick at least near the puck, but the video showed the kicking did the job. However, the AHL does not review that kind of thing; they only check if the puck crossed the line, as they don’t have multiple cameras. In the end it was ruled a good goal after a long, fruitless review. 2-1 Amerks.
The Marlies got an odd-man rush right away, and they finally looked like they were putting together a better second period than the first. That didn’t last long
Off a faceoff in the Marlies zone, Justin Holl lost the puck behind the net, and the Amerks ping-ponged the puck out, and it was an easy goal with Ramo out of position. The goal was waved off right away, and another very lengthy review ensued, but it seemed like an obvious and straight up goal where Ramo didn’t track the play. The play on the ice was upheld, never explained, and the Amerks fans were justifiably upset.
Play started up again with a repeat faceoff that the Amerks won, ping-ponged the puck around off the end boards this time, and Ramo was moving side to side but finished up sprawled out with the puck in behind him. It wasn’t exactly an instant replay, but it was close, and it was finally 3-1 Amerks. It should have been 4-1.
Neither the Marlies defensive play or Ramo’s positioning looked good on either the goal that didn’t count or the one that did.
Luckily for the Marlies, they got another power play chance late in the period, and the tic-tac-toe play ended up with a Kapanen special. Beautiful shot. 3-2 Amerks.
The Marlies took a too many men penalty in the last seconds of the game, so would be down a man to start the third. This is what sinks this team...oh, you know how it goes. They take too many penalties and their penalty kill isn’t very good.
The Marlies had barely any shots on goal by the end of the period, and the first power play was only a few seconds long, which may explain that a bit. Their five-on-five play was not generating offence, even when they were in the offensive zone.
The referees who took over the game with two very strange goal reviews, neither of which should have happened, and both of which should have been good goals. The Marlies got a break by getting the one that counted.
The Amerks changed up their goalie for an unknown reason at the start of the third. Ullmark had been solid, but the Marlies couldn’t capitalize off the fresh face. They had a penalty to kill.
The Marlies killed it off, Ramo made some saves and looked okay, but his lateral movement isn’t smooth or fast.
Maggio took a penalty for goaltender interference, so that was the end of his clean play streak. Andrew Campbell took a slashing penalty while killing that one. Too many penalties. Way too many.
The Marlies killed the five-on-three, the rest of the five-on-four, but killing penalties is not how you even up a one-goal game.
The Marlies got turned around in their own zone once they were at even strength, and while all of them were deep, they managed to concede the slot and the glove side of the net. One centring pass followed by an easy shot into the open half of the net meant it was 4-2 Amerks halfway through the third period.
The Marlies pulled Ramo, had the six-on-five working strong, but Nick Baptiste got the puck and narrowly missed getting a hat trick. He missed two more times before he finally did it, and made it 5-2.
The final score was 5-2 and the shots on goal were 35-25 for the Amerks. They took the third period with 17 shots to the Marlies 8. So in the end, the Marlies couldn’t even keep it even with the Amerks.
Marc-André Cliche on the five-on-three penalty kill. It can’t win you a game on its own, killing a penalty, but it helps.
The Marlies have too many diggers and board battlers and not enough shooters. With Dmytro Timashov, Milan Michalek and Trevor Moore all out of the lineup, as well as the injured Leipsic, the balance was just too far to the tough side of the equation, and why Timashov was out is a question that Keefe should have to answer. The lineup he put on the ice isn’t fast, they didn’t actually defend well, but they sure did forecheck hard. They didn’t do anything with the puck offensively, but they battled hard for it.
The Karri Ramo experiment is painful to watch. After three games he’s given up at least one goal a game that was questionable, usually while he’s motionless and over committed to a shooter, or when he’s trying to move laterally with speed he doesn’t seem to have. As of this minute, I’d take Jeff Glass over Ramo, and Glass had some iffy aspects to his game in his short exposure as a Marlie.
The Marlies come home for a weekend series against Albany before they have the week off before the Boxing Day game.
Keefe’s comments are interesting. He seems to be looking for a defensive solution, but to my eye, their defence is not a strength, either in the sense of the defenders individually, or the whole team.