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Marlies recap: defencemen provide the offence in 3-1 win over Devils

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Can any team in the AHL stop the Toronto Marlies?

Andrew Nielsen after scoring his third goal of the season.
Christian Bonin - TSGPhoto.com

It was Star Wars night at Ricoh Coliseum Saturday and the Marlies had the Force on their side. The Binghamton Devils (New Jersey Devils affiliate) were in town for the start of back-to-back games which was also the middle of a three-in-three for the Marlies.

One day after a wild 7-4 win on the road against the Belleville Senators—the team previously based in Binghamton—the new Binghamton Devils lost to the Marlies 3-1.

It was a solid victory for the Marlies and the latest in a now four game win streak against the Devils this season.

Marlies lines

Andreas Johnsson - Miro AaltonenNikita Soshnikov
Kerby Rychel - Chris MuellerBen Smith
Colin Greening - Frederik GauthierTrevor Moore
Dmytro Timashov - Adam BrooksJeremy Bracco

Rinat ValievJustin Holl
Martin MarincinVincent LoVerde
Andrew Nielsen - Calle Rosen

Calvin Pickard was in net for the Marlies and MacKenzie Blackwood was in net for the Devils.

In previous meetings this season we saw ex-Marlies player Viktor Loov, however, the Devils were apparently all out of loov with him and last week he was traded to the Minnesota Wild out in the Western Conference which means no more puns.

First Period

The very first note I took during the game was how the Marlies spent most of the first few minutes in the Devils’ zone. That would wind up being pretty consistent through the whole game.

All the forward lines had controlled zone entries and scoring chances. Bracco took advantage of this to setup Nielsen for the first goal of the game.

I have more notes about the period, but they are basically all the same story about the Marlies being in control.

The Devils sit last in the whole AHL with only 13 wins this season over 47 games. It was quickly obvious why they are so far behind, and how they didn’t have much chance against the first place Marlies.

Perhaps Rychel insulted them over this? The period ended with a big scuffle where the officials stepped in to separate some Devils players from him before it evolved into a brawl.

Second Period

Again, there isn’t much to tell about the second period gameplay beyond the Marlies largely dominating. My notes show all four forward lines still played as well as they did in the first. The Devils were even kind enough to take three penalties in the period to make the game even easier for the Marlies. Only Blackwood saved them from being routed in this game.

One unfortunate incident for the Marlies was taking a too-many-men penalty which was ultimately was served by Timashov. Before heading to the penalty box, Timashov skated over to the bench and appeared to have a rather animated conversation with Greening. I wasn’t looking at the bench when the referee blew the whistle, but I am guessing since they play the same position a line change was botched and they both wound up out together. Either way, the Marlies killed off that penalty.

The period ended with the Devils registering only three shots on goal, though they did have at least one real scoring chance that was blocked in front of the net on their power play.

Third Period

The Devils finally picked up some steam in the third period but the Marlies defence decided they really wanted to get their point totals up. This time it was Valiev whom you may recall was ranked highest by me in our Top 25 Under 25 this past season.

However, the effort by the Devils didn’t go unrewarded. An unfortunate error by Nielsen finally allowed them to get on the board.

Nielsen explained after the game that he felt horrible when he saw what unfolded. “That one’s on me and I take full responsibility for that; costing [Pickard] the shutout.” He explained he was quite emotional about the situation and that led to the ensuing brawl with Brandon Baddock. “I give up a puck, and I’m not happy with myself, and I mean he’s right there and he asked me to fight. I’m going to stand up for myself and show the guys that I’m not going to just roll over after a bad play.”

Through the rest of the game, the Marlies stayed in control. I have more notes about all four forward lines either controlling play or getting a scoring chance in the final ten minutes of the period.

The Devils waited until there was only about 90 seconds left to pull Blackwood. At the following faceoff there was a mix-up by the Devils the left Gauthier with the puck for a breakaway to put it in the empty net.

Marlies Updates

While the Marlies defenders scored the goals Saturday, there is one defenceman still waiting to get his first of the season. Calle Rosen now has 91 recorded shots on goal, more than only two other players on the team, yet he’s still waiting for one to actually get in the net.

Marlies Coach Sheldon Keefe seemed optimistic about the health of Andreas Borgman. Borgman took a hit to the head in Friday’s game in Belleville from Mike Blunden. He was taken out of the game as a precaution, but Keefe suggested he has since been looked after and reports he is fine. “He’s feeling good today. Today was a good positive day.” Whether he will be in Sunday’s game is still to be determined, but Keefe said he checked in with team doctors Saturday and added “we expect him on the ice really soon.” Blunden received a Match Penalty for the hit which may incur supplemental discipline.

The Marlies need to make better use of the delayed penalties in their favour at least for the sake of Pickard and Sparks who have to hustle over to the bench. Poor Pickard made the trip on three occasions in the game and the play was usually blown dead literally as soon as he arrived. One time the Marlies got their six-man unit fully deployed, but it was all for nothing as they went offside on the first attack. That’s a pretty dismal waste of that rare advantage.

Andreas Johnsson now sits with 41 points over 43 games. His 22 goals put him tied for second in the entire AHL this season.

Here are the highlights including Todd Crocker making Star Wars puns you will Loov.

Up Next

The Devils have a rematch today against the Marlies at Ricoh Coliseum at 4:00PM. The Marlies then head out on the road for their next two games and return for a game on Family Day, Monday February 19, at the Air Canada Centre.