After defeating the Albany Devils in four games in round one, the Marlies, with new teammate Carl Grundstrom, have spent the week preparing for their road trip to
Syracuse. Tonight, they begin round two against the Syracuse Crunch.
After one round, Justin Holl is the team leader in points, with his lone goal being the series winner, scored in triple overtime. Brendan Leipsic and Colin Greening are the goal leaders with two each. Full stats for the playoffs so far:
In net, Kasimir Kaskisuso has took over the final games after Garret Sparks was injured, with Antoine Bibeau acting as back up and Jordan Papirny being the practice goalie.
The empty net needs to pick up it’s game.
If Kaskisuo can keep on top of his game, the Crunch will be hard pressed to score more than the ten goals they had against the St. John’s Ice Caps.
Who to Watch:
If Garret Sparks is still not at 100% this will be Kaskisuo’s series. After Bibeau had a disappointing year, Kasiksuo came into the Marlies and stole the starters position away from Bibeau in Spark’s absence.
If he can keep up his play from round one and the regular season, he may not give the net back to Sparks once he’s ready to come back.
The Toronto Marlies offensive leader is on a mission this year to prove he’s worth a spot on the main roster next year. After posting 51 points in 49 regular season games, he has 3 points in 4 playoffs games and more is coming. This is his third AHL season and he’d like to make it his last, a trip to the conference finals should be the minimum he wants to accomplish.
One of the Marlies top blueliners this year, Travis Dermott is also trying to work his way off the Marlies. With a couple spots he’s been making his case, and MLHS stepped in and made one for him as well. Dermott has almost .5PPG in the regular season, has 4 in 4 in round one, and has been a key factor in almost every game of the first round. He’ll see a lot of time against the Crunch top players.
Keys to Victory:
The Marlies need to tighten up their defense if they want to keep the Crunch at bay and not go the distance in the series. While they’re limiting opponents to just over 20 shots per game, they need to keep the opponents away from the net and force them to take more shots up high.
Offensively increased scoring would help, but they threw everything but the kitchen sink at Mackenzie Blackwood in Albany and he was a brick wall. They’re going to face the same thing in Mike McKenna, who is keeping opponents to under 2 goals per game on average. This will be a series of highlight reel goals and dirty goal scrambles, so keeping it a mess in front of McKenna will be be the best option.
This series is the second time the Marlies and Crunch have faced off against each other in the second round. In 2007-08 the division winner Marlies needed seven games to eliminate the Crunch. At Raw Charge, Crunch writer Allokago broke down the differences between those two teams:
For Crunch fans who have been around the team for the last decade, this sense of Déjà vu might just be normal. There’s an almost startling number of parallels between the 2007-2008 Syracuse season, when the Crunch were affiliated with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the current Syracuse season. Although fans are hoping for one big difference - the 07-08 team lost control of what was a 3-1 series lead and didn’t make it out of the second round - it’s definitely fun to look back at a memorable Crunch year in comparison to the one that’s currently making some awesome memories.
The Crunch captain sits atop of the stats list, tied with Tye McGinn for 2 goals, 2 assists. Like the Marlies there’s no standouts on the score sheet, with many players chipping in offensively.
The Crunch have only played on goalie this playoff so far, and Mike McKenna has been on top of his game.
The Crunch empty net has been much better than the Marlies.
Who to watch:
This series is going to be all about the goalies. The Marlies just need to shoot, shoot, shoot and hope something goes in. This isn’t a hopeful one day prospect goalie, McKenna is an AHL veteran who once played for the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights (he’s old is what I’m saying).
A goalie who’s nearing the end of his career and never won a championship is a dangerous thing. The Marlies need to keep the pressure up.
The former Marlie became a Crunch (that sounds weird) at the trade deadline when he was sent to the Lightning in exchange for Brian Boyle. He scored 46 in 54 in the regular season and has two points in round one. Leafs fans are always a little wary of a former player coming back to haunt them, are Marlies fans? I’d assume so. Watch out for Froese, he may sneak in to score a game winner.
An NHL vet to go along with this veteran laden team, Condra is the Crunch captain, and like McKenna is looking for some hardware for the first time. Condra was an NHL defenseman for the Senators and Lightning most of his career, but was in the AHL the majority of this season. Tied for leading the team in points, Condra can also use his NHL, or at the very least AAAA abilities against a young Marlies team.
Key to victory
The Crunch need to tap into the decades of experience and force the Marlies to make mistakes. Take as many close upshots as you can on Kaskisuo, who spent the majority of the year in the ECHL, and force him to work harder than he did in round one. If the Crunch can force a goalie change and bring out Bibeau, that may be the way to win the series.
Game 1 - Friday May 5th, 7PM - Syracuse
Game 2 - Saturday Mat 6th, 7PM - Syracuse
Game 3 - Tuesday May 9th, 7PM - Toronto
Game 4 - Wednesday May 10th, 7PM - Toronto
Game 5 - Saturday May 13th, 7PM - Syracuse
Game 6 - Monday May 15th, 7PM - Toronto
Game 7 - Wednesday May 17th, 7PM - Syracuse