The Toronto Marlies, down two games to nothing and missing Freddie Gauthier to injury, needed a win last night. They got huge games from three young players: Andreas Johnsson who is 22, Kasperi Kapanen who is 20, and the newest Marlie, Carl Grundström, who is 19. Grundström has two goals and one assist in two games so far.
The game didn’t seem to be in the bag early, the Marlies were down by one goal after the first period and had turned a 2-2 comeback into a 3-2 score for the Crunch well into the third. I’d given up on them. Someone much smarter than me hadn’t.
On hand for the game, after missing all of the NHL playoffs, was Sami Kapanen. He spoke during the first intermission.
Sami Kapanen is the co-owner and coach of KalPa. He missed all of the NHL playoffs as his team went deep this year, losing to Tappara in the finals after being up two games to nothing. So he knows that things change in hockey, and the score now isn’t the final until the horn sounds.
Interviewer Paul Hendrick explains that Sami said off camera that Kasperi just needed to move his feet more and good things would happen for the Marlies.
He also gives a very clear-eyed recap of the Golden Goal game at the WJC last year. Kasperi was the bad guy on a defensive play before he became the hero. Sami isn’t afraid to tell it like it is.
Kapanen senior compares his and Kasperi’s skating style. He says:
My skating was quick, and his is powerful. His stride is a lot longer than mine, and there is more power into it. It comes naturally for him, but it would be nice to put me [from my] prime time and race him these days.
And Kasperi got his feet moving, scoring the insurance goal that made the score 5-3 last night after assisting on two others. Sami knows his kid.
Kasperi met the press after the game.
He had some sly jabs for his dad, who is “getting a bit old” according to his young son. (Sami is 43 and looks like he could still play.) And he also had some sass for Johnsson who got bloodied in a fight, which is likely why there’s no scrum from him.
#Marlies Andreas Johnsson sporting six stitches in his face & black eye after first-ever fight last night. "Yeah, I definitely didn't win."— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) May 10, 2017
But for all Kasperi’s joking around, he shares a clear and objective view of his own performance. That kind of honest self-assessment is a feature of his interviews and surely helps him become a better player.
The third star of the game was Grundström and he had his second scrum with the press in Toronto.
He says the biggest change for him coming over here to play is the small rink, but, in a bit of an understatement, he says he thinks that’s working out well for him so far. He’s a very easy-going guy, who plays a tough game and laughs about it after.
Trevor Moore does 20 questions with Dmytro Timashov, and now you can see why I call them the twins.
The Marlies play their fourth game against the Crunch tonight at 7 p.m. It’s the AHL. There’s no rest for the wicked or the virtuous.