UPDATES FROM FRIDAY EVENING ARE AT THE END OF THIS POST
After starting the season with back-to-back wins against the Utica Comets (Canucks affiliate), the Marlies are talking their first road trip of the season. It’s a three day swing through the AHL’s Atlantic Division to play three games.
Yes, that’s correct, three games in three days. It’s going to be a rough ride, especially on Sunday where the game start is in the afternoon after a night game the previous day in a whole different city.
There are a few stories we are watching to play out. The first is the goaltending situation. Obviously it’s not ideal to have one goalie to play all three games, so there should be a rotation at some point. That brings us to Calvin Pickard who is reported to now be formally with the team after the Leafs claimed him while on waivers from the Vegas Golden Knights. I expect to see his first start this weekend, but the question is who else will play?
Garret Sparks had the first two games of the season, if he picks up one or two this weekend where does that leave Kasimir Kaskisuo? The Solar Bears now have two goalies in Cal Heeter and Matt Hackett, so where or when he will actually get in games is to be determined if Pickard is actually playing this weekend. Perhaps Keefe will have him play the Sunday game as a fresh and fully rested starter. There’s nothing to do but wait and see what happens.
There are two other players to watch for: Martin Marincin and Jeremy Bracco. Both were scratched for the two games vs. Utica Comets last weekend.
Bracco’s debut is eagerly anticipated and comes with high expectations from fans of his plays in the OHL waiting to see how it translates up a level to the AHL. Martin Marincin was waived by the Leafs when they opted to keep both Andreas Borgman and Calle Rosén on their roster instead. The most important question is which of Travis Dermott, Andrew Nielsen, or Rinat Valiev would he displace from the lineup when he gets in a game (assuming he plays on that side).
Still on defence, we will watch to see if there is further experimentation with different pairings. I assume the Dermott-Liljegren pairing which cropped up mid-game last Sunday will continue, but who else will play together, and for how many games, or even periods, we will again simply have to wait and see.
7:15 pm Friday: Marlies @ Hartford Wolf Pack: (New York Rangers)
Last season’s record vs. Wolf Pack: 3 wins, 1 loss.
7:05 pm Saturday: Marlies @ Providence Bruins (Boston Bruins)
Last season’s record vs. Bruins: 1 win, 1 loss.
3:05 pm Sunday: Marlies @ Springfield Thunderbirds (Florida Panthers)
Last season’s record vs. Thunderbirds: 2 wins.
The Thunderbirds are a continuation of the team once known as the Portland Pirates. The Pirates moved to Springfield when the old Springfield Falcons moved to Arizona to become the Tuscon Roadrunners. The Roadrunners Captain, by the way, is Andrew Campbell, who was the previous captain of the Marlies. Before the Marlies arrived in Toronto, there was another AHL team here called the Toronto Roadrunners, but they are now the Bakersfield Condors — not to be confused with the ECHL Bakersfield Condors, who are now the Norfolk Admirals.
UPDATE [Friday @ 6:55 pm]:
Frederik Gauthier is back, Garret Sparks is in net, and Jeremy Bracco is playing.
Here are the lines for Friday night’s game.
Lines vs Hartford— Todd Crocker (@HockeyCrock) October 13, 2017
Rychel Aaltonen Kapanen
Johnsson Mueller Soshnikov
Greening Smith Timashov
Marchment Gauthier Bracco#MarliesLive
Pairings vs Wolf Pack— Todd Crocker (@HockeyCrock) October 13, 2017
So all of Gauthier, Marincin, Bracco, Paliotta, and Marchment get their first regular season games. Dermott and Valiev are out from the defence. Moore, Clune, and Brooks are out from the offence.