Things are not going well in Marlie World at the moment. Wednesday night, in front of only 2261 fans, the Toronto Marlies lost 8-1 to the Syracuse Crunch. It wasn’t the first time the Marlies lost in spectacular fashion this season; they lost 5-0 to the Providence Bruins just over a week ago. So what gives? What’s wrong?
The problem isn’t the offense, the Marlies are sixth in the AHL in goals for, it’s the goals against. 24-year-old Eamon McAdam leads the team with a .885 save percentage; he gave up three goals on five shots within the first 20 minutes of this game. 25-year-old Kasimir Kaskisuo is next with an .857 sv%. Jeff Glass is the other goalie to have played a game for the Marlies this season, his .849 sv% was traded to San Diego two days ago.
“I thought we got off to a fine start to the game. We made some mistakes that we’d definitely like to have back, things that we talked about before the game that we knew would be problematic if we didn’t execute, and then we didn’t get saves. We didn’t do a good job of protecting our goalies, and our goalies didn’t do a good job of protecting the group. That’s a bad combination.” - Sheldon Keefe, Dec 12.
What’s going on here? Why don’t the Marlies have better goalies? Why have things have gotten this bad? Someone mentioned to me after the game that these are the growing pains of developingt wo young goalies.
My counter to that idea is that having two young goalies in the AHL at the same time was never the plan. It’s clear now the Leafs banked on Curtis McElhinney and/or Calvin Pickard to go on waivers after a brief stint and be the veteran presence between the pipes to help guide a player like Kaskisuo while McAdam plays games in the ECHL.
It was a good plan in theory, unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way and now the Marlies are in dire need of some help. Where do they get that help? I’m not sure. Teams aren’t exactly giving away their waiver-exempt goalies at the moment. At least Laurence Gilman has shown he isn’t afraid to make moves.
Okay, rant over. Onto the game recap.
For the third game in a row, Dmytro Timashov was a healthy scratch. Timashov is 22-years-old and is playing in his third full season with the Marlies. He’s getting close to the “what are you” stage, so I’ll ask, what is he?
Timashov has not played well at all for the Marlies this season and his stock has started to drop. He leads the team with 26 penalty minutes in only 22 games, and that’s simply not acceptable on a Sheldon Keefe team. The kid has good speed, but he hasn’t shown much else beyond that. Of Timashov’s 15 points this season, eight are power play points (only one a power play goal). Since there aren’t many advanced stats in the AHL, I’ll include that he’s a -7 to boot.
Another player with whom Keefe was notably frustrated on Sunday’s 1-0 win against Belleville was Mason Marchment. Marchment plays on the edge, and sometimes it helps him excel (five goals in three games in late November), but the downside is that he also has stretches where nothing goes right and he looks really bad. Specifically, instead of energizing his team with a big hit, he’ll take a reckless penalty.
He was much more disciplined in this game, but that was probably because there wasn’t much to play for 28 minutes into the game. I’m not worried very much about Marchment. These ebbs and flows happen with players of his style. The trick for this young player to learn is how to minimize the lows when they come.
Michael Carcone - Adam Brooks - Sam Gagner
Mason Marchment - Chris Mueller - Jeremy Bracco
Pierre Engvall - Josh Jooris - Carl Grundstrom
Morgan Klimchuk - Colin Greening - Trevor Moore
Calle Rosen - Vincent LoVerde
Rasmus Sandin - Frank Corrado
Andreas Borgman - Sam Jardine
In a nutshell, the Marlies forgot how to defend while the goalies couldn’t stop a beach ball. Also, once the score got high enough, the team frankly gave up. They were going through the motions, but it wouldn’t be fair to judge them on those performances.
The Marlies got off to a good start, they out-shot the Crunch 4-1 in the first five minutes of the period, but the moment they made a mistake — Trevor Moore failing to find his assignment in the middle of the ice — the Crunch took advantage. Former LA Kings grinder/fighter Andy Andreoff walked in with all the space in the world and sniped on McAdam.
Sandin showed his youth on this goal. Devil’s advocates could also argue that Alex Barre-Boulet just deked both defenders out of their jocks. Either way, Tampa bay’s free agent signing out of the QMJHL use incredible speed and skill to push Sandin and LoVerde back before beating McAdam with a shot to the top corner.
I’ve really liked Morgan Klimchuk since he joined the Marlies; he’s a big body who can move, he’s aggressive on the puck and he has a good awareness of where he and his teammates are on the ice. On this play, he went in hard into the corner with Cory Conacher and was able piss him off enough to draw an elbowing penalty. Conacher — and Cameron Gaunce, who actually stepped onto the ice from the bench to speak to the refs — was not happy with the call and smashed his stick against the glass of the penalty box in frustration.
Mueller made an incredible pass from below the goal line to Bracco on the power play and the 21-year-old converted with 27 seconds left in the frame.
In heart-breaking fashion, Dennis Yan scored with only six seconds left. Veterens Sam Jardine and Colin Greening got mixed up with their assignments while defending an odd-man rush, with both taking the same player. Unfortunately, Yan was the guy they ignored and he made them pay.
Eamon McAdam concedes three goals on five shots in the first period as the Marlies trail 3-1 after twenty minutes.— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) December 13, 2018
This team needs nothing more than a stable goalie right now
McAdam was pulled after the first period
Otto Somppi got his first career AHL goal on this play. It started off with Troy Bourke shooting a hard shot off the mask of Kaskisuo, dazing him. Borgman did a poor job containing Somppi to the outside and allowed the rookie to score his first goal.
I’m not sure which part of this goal was more embarrassing for the Marlies: the fact that Ross Colton fell down after he got the puck, or that he was able to take not one, not two, but three shots at the puck before getting touched by one of the Marlies.
Don’t worry, the game got worse! Cameron Gaunce was just throwing a muffin at Kaskisuo’s net from the point, but he missed. Luckily for Gaunce, the puck bounced off the end boards, back off Kaskisuo’s skate, and into the net. I think everyone in the building, and especially Kaskisuo, wanted to burn that goal from their memory. It was a heck of a stinker.
With Calle Rosen already in the box for high-sticking Yan, Corrado carelessly threw a Crunch player into the Marlies’ net on the penalty kill, sending him into a heap under the Tim Hortons logo. With two of the most important PK’ers in the box, Andreoff scored his second goal of the game. Respect to Borgman for blocking that shot and still trying to cover his position. That looked like it hurt a lot.
Not sure how Barre-Boulet was allowed to get a clean look from below the hashmarks, and then find his own rebound and pot it home without moving a step, but he did. Thankfully that was the last goal of what Scott Wheeler called “the worst loss in the Sheldon Keefe era.”