It was a rough Christmas week for the Toronto Marlies. After their days off, they returned to action on Boxing Day, losing to the Belleville Senators 4-1, then losing to the Rochester Americans 5-1 on Friday.
These losses came after what appeared to be a rebound of sorts. On a rare trip to the AHL Western Conference on the weekend of December 14, they picked up two big, high goal differential wins against the Manitoba Moose. However, that was followed up with the Marlies losing three of the next five games. What is notable is the team scored only one goal in all three games they lost.
Things are about to get much more difficult as they will now face one of the AHL’s best teams this season. First, let’s look at the lineup changes in recent games.
The team is still missing some of the top defenders, with Rasmus Sandin away at the World Junior Championship, and injuries dogging Calle Rosen (neck), Andreas Borgman (concussion), and Timothy Liljegren (high ankle-sprain) who are forced to sit on the sidelines as reported by Todd Crocker.
Some of the Newfoundland Growlers’ players like Alex Gudbranson and Derian Plouffe were moved up and down as necessary to back up the team, but even that has not provided enough bodies.
The forward group wound up shorthanded Friday too when some players came down sick. Trevor Moore was also called up to the Maple Leafs, once again disrupting the long running Marchment-Brooks-Moore line. Morgan Klimchuk was able to return from his suspension on Friday, but they were still short, so Jordan Subban was re-assigned as a forward as there was no one else available. “It’s unfortunate the way it went down with kind of losing some guys last minute and unexpectedly when you’re already on the road,” said Sheldon Keefe about the situation. However, he noted he has worked through odd lineup situations like this several times before.
Moore and Kaskisuo have now been returned for the Marlies; if they play in today’s game is still not clear.
The Marlies have also picked up goalie Michael Hutchinson after a trade made by the Maple Leafs with the Panthers for backup goalie depth.
One unknown is Tom Sestito, who was signed to a try-out contract by the team all the way back on December 18, but has yet to make an appearance in a game.
The Marlies play the Charlotte Checkers today at 3:00 p.m. EST. It’s their first meeting of four games this season, all four of which are in three weeks from now. It is crucial their offence goes up against this opponent. The Checkers are among the top teams in the whole AHL so far this season, winning 24 of their 34 games played to date. The Marlies have 14 wins in 32 games.