The Toronto Marlies defeated the AHL Penguins Saturday in the first of two back-to-back weekend games at Coca-Cola Coliseum. It was a nice win for the Marlies who were down 2-0 in the first period and then quickly bounced back and got in the game, finishing the first period up 3-2, and winning the game 7-4.
Marlies Lines Saturday
A look at the lines for today's clash at @CocaColaClsm. #MarliesLive pic.twitter.com/awemnrBe78— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) December 1, 2018
The defence pairings were shuffled later in the game after Timothy Liljegren was injured and did not return. I have more about that incident below.
The Penguins have two familiar names on their roster. The first is Tim Erixon, the ‘other’ guy in the Phil Kessel trade. We all know Kessel was traded for Kapanen, but did you recall that the Leafs had acquired Tim Erixon and put him in that package as well? Do you even recall that one goal he scored as a Maple Leaf? Seriously. It happened! You’ll have to trust me as there appears to be no video of it anywhere, but it is on the game sheets (Note: Zach Sill scored twice for the Leafs in that game. Remember him?). The second familiar name is Tobias Lindberg, who played six games for the Leafs in that same season as Erixon, but the Penguins scratched him for this game.
The Goals of the Game
I am not going to go through all seven goals in the game, but let’s look at three in particular.
The Penguins opened up the scoring fast, going up 2-0 before even four minutes had passed in the game. Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe saw a problem and made the decision to call a timeout to get his team back on track. “We weren’t ready to play from the drop of the puck, and that’s on me,” he said noting it’s rare to take a time out that quickly in a game. “I was giving myself an opportunity to fix it, and the guys responded.”
Did they ever.
The first goal immediately after that time out came from Chris Mueller, even with a defender aggressively trying to lift his stick to stop him getting a shot off.
We may not ever actually know what was said by Keefe in that timeout, but it must have been inspirational. Over 91 seconds the Marlies went from being down 2-0 to being up 3-2. It probably involved lots of swearing as none of the players were willing to go on the record with a quote of any part of it to us after the game.
Jeremy Bracco picked up four points in this game, two of which were goals; his second and third of the season. He didn’t have to do much on this one though. It goes in off his butt!
His second goal is more impressive. Bracco is not a giant warrior like Frederik Gauthier who can plow through the other teams’ defences to get the puck in the zone. Bracco is the quick moving thief that stabs the other team in back when they didn’t even realise he was there.
What a great game for Bracco. After picking up only one single goal in his first 19 games, he not only added two more, but also two primary assists. He clearly wanted those goals really badly and was positively beaming after the game. Combined with those assists, the goals move him up to 15 points in 20 games this season.
He’s continuing to impress. The GIF in this Tweet from Kevin needs a qualifier that the Penguins appear to simply not even try to play defence, but it’s still impressive, and it’s not out of line with what we have seen Sandin do in previous games. He’s on the way up in the Leafs organization.
Rasmus Sandin goes for a skate: pic.twitter.com/6D80QnsRsm— Kevin Papetti (@KPapetti) December 1, 2018
The Marlies sent oft-maligned defenceman Andrew Nielsen to the Calgary Flames organisation last week in exchange for left winger Morgan Klimchuk.
Klimchuk was drafted by the Flames using a first round draft pick acquired from the Penguins in their trade for Jarome Iginla. It’s interesting to have a player on the Marlies roster once again tied to a famous hockey name the same way Kasperi Kapanen was tied to Phil Kessel. Kapanen is legitimately freed of that burden now, developing his own story with his quick play and high scoring Kessel is now almost never referenced when people talk about Kapanen, and now Klimchuk can develop his own story with the Marlies and be his own player too.
Klimchuk was highly complimentary of the Marlies organization. ‘Here it’s a whole other level. You kind of hear about it throughout the league,” he noted as a veteran of the AHL in California. “I’ve been in the league a few years now; but now I’m getting to see it first hand and it’s pretty special to be a part of.”
Klimchuk highlighted the difficulties in a transition from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference of the AHL given how little inter-conference play there is in the league. “I think it’s gonna take a little bit,” he said. “From systems to teams I haven’t even seen. [I’ve been] in the league for four years and haven’t even played any of these teams before. It’s something that’s a little bit different.”
Yet, yesterday he got two pucks in the net, though the only one that counted didn’t go by a goalie.
Morgan Klimchuk's empty netter makes it 7-4 Toronto. #WBSvsTOR #WBSPens #DKPS pic.twitter.com/yJZjAc3VBL— Taylor Haase (@TaylorHaasePGH) December 1, 2018
The first time he got a puck in the net it was waived off because Griffen Molino of interference with Penguins’ goalie Anthony Peters on the play.
Liljegren took a hard hit and left the game. The severity of it, and if there is any injury is not yet clear. Keefe did not offer an update on his future status but noted letting him back in for the rest of the game was considered, making it sound not that serious.
The Marlies next game is today (Sunday). They will finish up a back-to-back weekend games against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Flyers affiliates.) The game will start at 4:00 p.m.