Karri Ramo had one game in the bag for the Marlies, and it was a mixed result. It is way too soon to tell how he’ll play long term this season, but as the Marlies moved on to face the Providence Bruins, Ramo got the start agian.
Todd Crocker provided the Marlies starting lineups for the game:
Lindberg Froese Kapanen
Greening Smith Johnsson
Rychel Cliche Clune
Marchment Laich Timashov
Backing up Ramo was Garret Sparks again.
Hurt in the previous game, Brendan Leipsic and Milan Michalek were still on the trip, but didn’t dress for the game.
When you take the period 15-5 in shots on goal, you don’t expect to be down 1-0. And yet that’s what happened in the first. The Bruins had Zane McIntyre in net, and he’s on a hot streak.
The first shot for the Bruins was an undefended shot that rang of the cross bar that left Ramo watching it, motionless. That was not what you want to see, but he’s rehabbing, and it was early in the game.
Meanwhile, the play stayed mostly in the Bruins zone. The Bruins are a tougher defensive team, one of the only teams to have a winning record against last year’s Marlies. They showed some of that at times.
Brooks Laich, anchoring the fourth line at centre, needed to be bailed out defensively by Mason Marchment and Dymtro Timashov a few times. But they were a good line offensively, perhaps surprisingly.
The Byron Froese line with Kasperi Kapanen on the wing had the first meaningful zone time. They were like a breath of fresh air out on the ice, able to make clean zone exits and entries and generate real scoring chances.
Travis Dermott played behind them a lot, and was once physically overmatched at blueline by the Bruins, but was also an offensive force, getting off good point shots.
Marchment had a great scoring chance that earned him a shot to the head for his trouble, in case he needed a reminder he was in the AHL. He’s very much a player in the Matt Martin vein, but if at this point in his career, the shoot/hit ratio is kept tilted more towards shooting, he could be a good depth player someday. A few minutes later, looking for crease garbage, he got another scoring chance.
Andreas Johnsson was doing a lot of things well in this period, particularly in the neutral zone, denying zone exits and moving the puck up the ice..
The Froese line was dominate, however, with Kapanen’s speed and Lindberg playing a Hyman role very well, they make a credible AHL version of the Matthews line on the Leafs.
But it was Ramo who decided the outcome of the period, giving up a high glove goal while he was way, way out to cut down the angle on a shooter. It was déjà vu all over again, as it was nearly identical to a goal he gave up in his first game. It gave Jake DeBrusk his fourth goal in 23 games.
Marchment, Lindberg and Timashov were bringing the physicality and offensive smarts needed to beat a team like Providence in the first.
The Bruins came out stronger, and they were keeping the puck in the offensive zone easily against the Marlies clearing attempts.
Zac Rinaldo, however, put a stop to that with the first penalty of the game, putting the Marlies the first powerplay without Leipsic. They had a terrible time getting set up, but one they did, the were good.
Marchment had the only real early chance just after the fruitless powerplay, but he flubbed a pass to Cliche and nothing came of it.
A great shot by the Bruins on an odd-man rush resulted in a big rebound that went straight to a trailing Bruin forward. It was an easy goal for Peter Cehlarik. 2-0 Bruins.
Byron Froese got one back almost immediately on a play where McIntyre failed to track the puck as it was centred. He had an easy shot to make it 2-1.
The Marlies gave the puck away on a bad line change, and Ramo made a freeze play. By the latter part of the period the Marlies just seemed deflated, without their usual spark. They weren’t parading to the penalty box, but that seemed to be as much the temperament of the referee as their own.
The Bruins got their first powerplay as Lindberg went off for hooking. The Marlies cleared the puck, got in a change on the penalty killers, and as they come back in to set up, the Bruins didn’t look very organized, and yet, all it took was a cross crease pass that left Ramo sprawling to try to cover the new shooter, and he was beat clean. 3-1 Bruins. The Marlies seemed very out of the game.
The shots on goal in the second were almost a reverse of the first, with the Bruins 12 to the Marlies 8 and overall trailing by only six, negating the entire dominating first period of Marlies play. The numbers that matter had the Bruins up 3 goals to one.
No one to be honest. None of the Marlies did anything remarkable, with pace, with verve, vigour or energy. They just looked beat.
The third was a lot of up and down play, trending toward the Marlies getting some chances in the Bruins zone. Johnsson had a good chance in close, and Kapanen sparked a scrum with a long shot that the Marlies though they had a goal, but the zebras waved it off.
Marchment took a tripping penalty, giving the Bruins a powerplay five minutes in. Loov was off getting some equipment seen too, and with Gauthier still out injured, the Marlies penalty kill was weaker than it should have been. It was good enough for the Bruins, and they returned to five-on-five with just over half the period to go and two goals to get back.
The Bruins played in their own end a lot, but they ably kept the Marlies to the perimeter, and with no Leipsic to dance the puck into the slot, they couldn’t make chances appear from nowhere.
With the Cliche line not firing like they were in the last game, the Bruins only had to check the Froese line and they had the Marlies contained.
Ramo gave up another big rebound off a hard shot he couldn’t contain. 4-1 Bruins.
Timashov got that one back on a shot that McIntyre should have had while they were still announcing the Bruins scorers. 4-2 Bruins.
Colin Smith took a tripping penalty right after the goal, and with less than five minutes to go, the Bruins had no trouble running two minutes off of the clock with a powerplay they didn’t need to score on. It had seemed like the Marlies weren’t going to sink themselves with penalties, and yet they nailed the door shut themselves by doing just that.
With Ramo pulled, the Marlies got another easy one on a long shot. Johnsson got this one, and it was 4-3 with less than one minute to play. McIntyre wasn’t so hot tonight, but he didn’t need to be.
The referee played some great defence, getting in the way of Froese in the corner, and eventually the Bruins got the puck and put it in the empty net.
The final shots on goals were 30-23 for the Marlies, but the score was 5-3 for the Bruins.
Timashov and Johnsson for at trying to score all the time.
Kapanen, Cliche and Clune for trying to take advantage of the desultory Bruins powerplay with shorthanded chances.
It’s a game like this that show you who plays every game, start to finish, and who doesn’t.
Ramo is rehabbing from a serious injury. He hasn’t played since February. But when Jonathan Bernier was sent to the Marlies on a conditioning stint when he was so out of it he was letting in goals from street hockey games five blocks over, he was the best goaltender in the AHL for two weeks. By a long, long margin.
Ramo is not that.
Meanwhile at the other end of the ice, the Marlies don’t score goals. Their balance of scoring talent and physicality has changed, and with Leipsic hurt, it may have gone too far in the wrong direction, but the truth is both Leipsic and Kapanen are getting a lot of powerplay points while no one is getting a lot of five-on-five goals on this team. Until they do, it won’t matter which goalie is playing at either end.
Having said that, I’m really ready for the Leafs to pivot and start working on rehabilitating Jhonas Enroth in the AHL.
The Marlies move on to Hartford for a game tomorrow night.