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Toronto Marlies vs. Syracuse Crunch weekend preview

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The Marlies play back-to-back games this weekend against the team which eliminated them from last season’s playoffs.

Marlies (11-4-0-0) vs. Crunch (4-7-1-2)
Saturday 4:00PM: Marlies win 2-1
Sunday 4:00PM
Ricoh Coliseum

Last season, the Toronto Marlies Calder Cup playoff hopes died in the second round against the Syracuse Crunch. The series lasted seven games, with the home team winning each game. Since the Crunch had home ice advantage, they won game seven at home in Syracuse. The Crunch advanced all the way to the Calder Cup Final where they lost to the Grand Rapids Griffins.

The Marlies have already broken up the pattern from last season’s playoffs, defeating the Crunch at their first meeting of the season at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse on October 27. The home team lost; the Marlies won 4-2.

Now, the Crunch get their chance to change things up too, playing back-to-back games against the Marlies at Ricoh Coliseum this Saturday and Sunday. This will be the second and third of eight games against the Crunch this season. Can the Marlies keep their home game win streak against the Crunch going?

There have been some big changes for the Crunch since last season’s playoffs, but they still have offensive power, averaging 2.7 goals per game. That’s still a little shy of the Marlies 3.3.

The real weakness for the Crunch has been in net. The goaltending has been so bad it has left them in last place in the AHL North Division, with only four wins in fourteen games. Contrast that with the Marlies, who sit at the top with eleven wins in fifteen games, thanks in large part to Garret Sparks who leads all AHL goalies with a 0.944 SV%, and his backup, Calvin Pickard, with a respectable 0.918 SV%.

The Crunch goalies have both averaged about 0.865 SV%.

Earlier this week, the Crunch and Lightning finally made a move on their goalie issue.

Louis Domingue hasn’t played in the AHL for several seasons, but his record as a backup with the Coyotes was generally slightly below the NHL league average.

It is reported he will get his first start with the Crunch this weekend, and was spotted praticing at the MasterCard Centre earlier this week.

Burlington, Ontario native Cory Conacher is back in Toronto and is excited to play in front of his family and friends who will be making the trip to see him this weekend.

“ I build a lot of energy from them and find a way to put on a show for them. Hopefully that continues. It’s important for us to get off to a good start against Toronto because they can score a lot of goals; they have a lot of offensive skill, and a lot of offensive power.”

A feature on Conacher where he talks about being on a team full of rookies, his family, and nice spots to hang out in Toronto, can be found at Raw Charge.

On the Marlies side, Frederik Gauthier is back with the team, while Nikita Soshnikov has been called up to the Leafs. The Marlies will be without Mason Marchment for the weekend. An unexpected offensive power for the team this season, and AHL player of the week last month, he was suspended for two games after an incident playing against the Devils on November 10.

Ben Smith still leads the team’s offence with eight goals and seven assists in fifteen games played.

Saturday starting lines: