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Recap: Toronto Marlies give up six in a row, lose 7-4 to Utica Comets

Is it time to panic? Probably not.

Jeff Glass attempts to make a save on Roland MacEwen
Credit: Christian Bonin

What do you say about this game?

The Toronto Marlies would like to say nothing following the 7-4 beat-down at the hands of the Utica Comets. It was 6-0 mid-way though the second period, and despite a good 90 seconds of hockey where the Marlies brought themselves back within three, there was nothing else to take away this game that was positive.

“Forget about it. Leave it.” said Jeremy Bracco. “There’s no need to dwell on it. It’s happened. You can’t go back. You can’t fix it. So you just have to be better tomorrow.”

Head coach Sheldon Keefe indicated flushing this loss away was exactly the medicine he prescribed his team.

“Just continue with the message. We’re trying to grow as a team and make progress. Once we made that one mistake today and it ended up in our net, we just weren’t able to flush it. That’s why it got out of control on us. That was the message; flush it, clear your head, get your attitude right. That’s the challenge for us here.”

It’s a new season. This team isn’t the one that won the Calder Cup. There were only nine players in today’s lineup that was on the ice for the Marlies in the last game of 2017-18. That Marlies team needed to learn how to fight back, and so does this one. That is the challenge Keefe referred to in his post-game comments.

That brings us to the goaltending.

Bracco brought mention to the fact that he and his teammates hung their goalies out to dry in this game. That’s true, but nevertheless, this duo of net-minders has only been able to stop 84.6% of the shots they’ve faced this season.

By comparison, Garret Sparks, Calvin Pickard, Ian Scott, and Kaskisuo last year combined to stop 92.2% of shots in 2017-18.

If you take this AHL’s duo with this years NHL duo of Frederik Andersen and Garret Sparks, the Leafs’ NHL/AHL goaltenders have a combined .861 save percentage across nine games this year.

There are still 72 games to go, so here’s hoping things turn around for these guys as the Marlies work to improve their team defence.

The Team

Chris Mueller and Carl Grundstrom are sitting out the front half of the back-to-back against the Utica Comets today. Mueller is still healing from Monday’s game in which he left early due to an injury, while Grundstrom has been dealing with a bug or illness of some kind. As usual, the Marlies are shy when it comes to details.

Today they played with 11 forwards and 7 defencemen. 31-year-old left-handed defenceman Kyle Cumiskey was signed to a PTO with the Marlies earlier today and played in his first game of the year with the AHL squad. Cumiskey, who has been with the team since the beginning of training camp, was a seventh-round pick of the Colorado Avalanche back in 2005.

Forwards

Dmytro Timashov - Sam Gagner - Jeremy Bracco
Griffin Molino - Adam Cracknell - Trevor Moore
Pierre Engvall - Josh Jooris - Colin Greening
Emerson Clark - J.J. Piccinich

Defence

Calle Rosen - Timothy Liljegren
Andreas Borgman - Vincent LoVerde
Kyle Cumiskey - Jordan Subban
Andrew Nielsen

Kasimir Kaskisuo is in net for the Marlies in this game, he is 1-1-0 with a .886 save percentage so far in this early season.

First Period

0-1

The Marlies get going early, which has been a thing that is few and far between with this team, opening the night with four shots to the Comets zero. However, on Kaskisuo’s first bit of work on the night, he let in a Darren Archibald shot off the rush. It was seconds after Jooris nearly scored off a Engvall pass off a 2-on-1 break.

Following the goal there was a scary moment surrounding Clark and Ashton Sautner. Clark hit Sautner hard into the boards near the penalty box doors. Sautner tried to get up, but couldn’t. Meanwhile, Clark answered the bell on Utica enforcer, and captain, Carter Bancks in the Marlies end of the ice. Sautner was still down, even after the two fighters were sent to the box (with Bancks getting the extra two for instigating). He woould eventually get to his feet leave the game.

0-2

The Marlies tried to get something going offensively for the rest of the period but where consistently out-shot by the Comets. Liljegren attempted a end-to-end rush, and got the puck around the net and into the corner, but lost the puck along the boards, and fell. He was cross-checked by a Comets forward while he was down as he tried to get back into position.

Meanwhile, the Marlies forwards (Greening, Jooris, and Engvall) don’t realize they have to cover, and it’s a 3-on-1 with only Rosen back. Obviously Tanner MacMaster scores and makes it a two-goal lead for the Comets.

0-3

Just as LoVerde returned to the ice following an interference call, Brendan Woods scored for the Comets after tipping home a great back-hand shot from Guillaume Brisebois . It was at this point, fans of the Marlies started for Kaskisuo to get traded. Yikes.

0-4

Things started to look like they settled down for the period and the teams were going to go into the intermission as is, and then Subban lost a battle in front of the net and fell into Kaskisuo. The rebound was poked loose and Adam Gaudette put it away to give the Comets a commanding lead. There was a challenge for goalie interference, but on review the goal was ruled valid as called on ice.

After One

Uh... Instead of talking about that period where the Marlies got out-shot 13-19, and Kaskisuo let in four goals on those 19 shots (good for a .789 save percentage), let’s just watch this thread of fun zone entries that Kevin made. Isn’t that nice?

Second Period

0-5

With Cracknell in the box for tripping, Reid Boucher walks to the top of the circle on the power play and rips a seeing-eye shot to the top corner of Kaskisuo’s net. It hasn’t been a great night for him, or the defense in front of him. They’ve struggled massively to move bodies out in front. The forwards also haven’t been helping the cause, they have missed defensive assignments all the time and no one’s working very hard to cover the shooters at the perimeter. The Marlies have been beat in every way.

0-6

I don’t even remember how this goal happened. Do you even care? I think it was a defensive breakdown in the defensive zone, where Carter Bancks fed Lukas Jasek for a tap-in at the side of the net. Jordan Subban had a night to forget. I found the video and, it was that bad.

It was at this point Sheldon Keefe gave Kaskisuo a mercy pull and put in Jeff Glass. Let’s see what you can do, Mr. Glass.

In-period poll, because I’m sitting in the press-box at 5:25 pm on a Saturday and I’m bored. When do we push the panic button on the Marlies goaltending? Can we still hold out hope that Calvin Pickard or Curtis McElhinney will be waived and claimed by the Leafs? Does Laurence Gilman have to make a trade?

Give me your thoughts in the comments below and in the poll.

Poll

Is it time to push the panic button?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    No, Kaskisuo and Glass will rebound.
    (28 votes)
  • 35%
    No, We’ll get Pickard or McElhinney back.
    (46 votes)
  • 7%
    It’s the defence.
    (10 votes)
  • 8%
    YES, I’ve had enough!
    (11 votes)
  • 12%
    I’m pretty close but not yet.
    (16 votes)
  • 9%
    Call up Eamon McAdam.
    (13 votes)
  • 5%
    Waive Sparks and sign Steve Mason.
    (7 votes)
131 votes total Vote Now

6-1

YES YOU HEARD THAT RIGHT. THE TORONTO MARLIES GOT A GOAL! With Subban in the box for checking a Utica player in the head along the boards, the Marlies went off for four shots on net while down a man. After three chances early, including a 3-on-1, Moore fed Timashov for a tap in off a odd-man rush. The crowd erupted with the vigour of the Calder Cup Finals. The fans at Coca-Cola Coliseum really needed that goal. It was a great pass by Rosen to open up the ice. He’s one of the few Marlies that looked good tonight.

After Two

WE STILL HAVE A PERIOD OF THIS LEFT??? On the bright side Glass hasn’t looked terrible in net, although it would be nice if he didn’t play the puck because he looks like me on ice when he stands up, and I can’t even skate.

Third Period

2-6

OH MY GOD JEREMY BRACCO SCORED, AND IT’S 6-2!

3-6

AND NOW GRIFFIN MOLINO SCORED, AND IT’S 6-3!!

The Marlies get three goals in a span of 90 seconds and unbelievably bring the Comets’ lead down to three. Let’s go through the two goals in the second because I was just losing my mind with Craig Button next to me the entire time instead of doing my job.

First, the Bracco goal. I assume because Bracco is so small, none of the five Comets surrounding him even realize he had a stick and skates. The Comets definitely assumed the Marlies would give up and they would get an easy win. Bracco was able to settle down a pass from Borgman at the point and dance around goaltender Ivan Kulbakov for the Marlies’ second goal in 41 seconds. Just as Marlies fans started to wrap their heads around a potential comeback, Molino walks in off the wing and snipes on Kulbakov.

3-7

Borgman wasn’t having the greatest of nights, and it got worse as the Comets scored their seventh goal of the game with him in the box for boarding. Once again, Boucher took a shot from the far side of the circle and it beat Glass. The crowd at Coca-Cola were once again left speechless.

4-7

The Marlies make it interesting late with a sloppy power play goal credited to Clark. However, it would not be enough as the Marlies would run out of time and chances, losing 7-4 to the Comets. They will do this all again Sunday afternoon at 4pm in Toronto.

After the Whistle

  • Borgman and Rosen are both players who should probably be in the NHL. They are both big bodies who can move the puck etremely well and skate with NHL pace. It will only be a matter of time before one, or both, are up with the Leafs.
  • Jordan Subban has come to this organization as advertised. He’s a great player in the offensive zone, he’s always making plays and isn’t afraid to push forward with all his confidence and skill. But, defensively, there are areas where he just isn’t good enough. He has a lot to learn when it comes to battles in front of the net and covering for himself or his partner in transitions. They’re learnable things though, which is why he was signed on to the team.
  • Kyle Cumiskey looked good! He wowed me with his speed at one point in the game, and apart from being a -1, he had a very quiet night. He has an opportunity to take a full-time spot on the Marlies with Rasmus Sandin injured/in limbo and Andrew Nielsen really not showing any progression in his play. He’s on a PTO right now, I wonder how long before he’s offered an AHL contract. Craig Button sure liked his story.
  • The Marlies will look to turn this Saturday afternoon thrashing into a weekend split against the Utica Comets. Winning on Sunday afternoon will be the best way for them to move on as a group and prove to themselves that they’re better than their 1-3-0 record shows.