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Toronto Marlies Rocket past Laval for 7-1 victory

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Jeremy Bracco notches three assists for the first time in his AHL career

Martin Marincin, Andreas Johnsson, Calle Rosen, Miro Aaltonen, Nikita Soshnikov running down the high-five line
Credit: Christian Bonin/TSGphoto.com

Boy, the Montreal Canadiens prospect pool is nothing to write home about. The Toronto Marlies out-classed the Laval Rocket from puck-drop to final horn in a 7-1 shellacking at Ricoh Coliseum. Calvin Pickard made 31 stops at one end, while 15 different Marlies recorded a point at the other, five of whom had multi-point nights in the win.

The Marlies leading point-getter was Jeremy Bracco, who’s three-assist night on the kid-line with Timashov and Brooks led the way for the boys in blue. This was his first three-point game in professional hockey.

The Team

Andreas Johnsson - Miro Aaltonen - Nikita Soshnikov

Kerby Rychel - Chris Mueller - Ben Smith

Colin Greening - Frederik Gauthier - Trevor Moore

Dmytro Timashov - Adam Brooks - Jeremy Bracco

Calle Rosen - Martin Marincin

Rinat Valiev - Vincent LoVerde

Andrew Nielsen - Alex (the better) Gudbranson

Calvin Pickard gets the start tonight on the second half of a back-to-back that began with a 26-save performance by Garret Sparks.

Head coach Sheldon Keefe told reporters after the game that Timothy Liljegren has been a little “banged up” since before they All-Star break. They hoped he would be back in time for Friday’s game in Rochester, but it’s taking a little longer to get the teenage defenseman back to 100%.

Mason Marchment also missed both games this weekend as a healthy scratch, a victim of the numbers game with Soshnikov in the lineup. “We thought it was a good chance for Marchment just to continue on the path, get in some work-outs and things like that,” said Keefe after the game. “We expect him at practice this week.”

As a result, the only lineup changes from Friday in Rochester are Adam Brooks and Jeremy Bracco in for Jean Dupuy and Rich Clune.

First Period

The Toronto Marlies get an early power play chance when Brett Lernout inadvertently shoots the puck over the glass.

Johnsson has now taken over the role of winger-quarterback on the power play from Kasperi Kapanen. All plays have been running through him and defenseman Calle Rosen. The power play has obviously lost a step with the promotion of Kapanen, but Johnsson has shown the ability to step up from his #2 role to now being considered “the guy”.

Nikita Soshnikov has looked good on his edges so far in this game. He juked a defenseman clean in his first shift of the game, and in his second, was able to fend off a Laval opponent while driving to the net and setting up a decent scoring chance for his teammates.

Martin Marincin talking to Nikita Soshnikov before a faceoff
Credit: Christian Bonin/TSGphoto.com

1-0

Bracco shows off his elite edges and vision when he glided around the back of Laval’s net before coming out the other side and setting up Andrew Nielsen for a blast from the top of the circle. Dmytro Timashov apparently got a stick on the shot and as a result gets credited with the goal.

2-0

The Marlies have been causing chaos in the offensive zone all game. Just when the Rocket think they’re getting the puck out, Calle Rosen negates the clearing attempt by slashing at the puck right at the blueline. Andreas Johnsson bats the puck down in the slot and swaps places with Miro Aaltonen, who is right beside him, in order to clear some space from the maze of sticks in front of him. As Johnsson gets clear, he finds Nikita Soshnikov hiding in the weeds. Sosh’s one-timer

3-0

After a defensive zone start, Colin Greening and Freddy Gauthier get sprung for a 2-on-1 that turns into a 3-on-1 with Trevor Moore catching up from the rear. A give-and-go between Greening and Moore gives the former Senator a great chance, but he hits the post. The puck travels to the other side of the ice and is kept in by Martin Marincin and Freddy the Goat. Goat’s centering pass to Greening in the high slot works like a charm. It’s a rout.

4-0

Chris Mueller sets up for a faceoff in the offensive zone to the right of Charlie Lindgren. He wins it straight to Kerby Rychel who blasts a one-timer cleanly past Laval’s starting goalie.

After One

The Marlies are clearly several steps ahead of the Laval Rocket in terms of talent and are definitely putting on a show for the fans. Not only are the shots 14-7, but the Marlies have been playing in the offensive zone for most of the night as they have had five offensive-zone starts at even strength in the first, two more than the Rocket who had three.

Second Period

It looks like the Laval Rocket have given up with this whole hockey thing and are now trying to bully the Marlies. Jeremy Gregoire goes to the box for slashing Johnsson’s stick out of his hands.

5-0

Trevor Moore puts the fifth goal on the board for the Toronto Marlies. His tap-in on a wide open net courtesy of excellent passing from Bracco and Rychel down low. Jeremy Bracco has really started to look comfortable in his playmaking ability in the AHL lately.

Trevor Moore goes to the box for hooking five minutes into the second period. I’m sorry Habs Eyes on the Prize but...

After Two

Alex Gudbranson, who was called up by the Marlies on February 1st, has been a very solid defenseman for the Marlies so far in this game. He has been the defense-first partner for Andrew Nielsen in this game, using his size to clear the front of the net and keep players to the outside.

Gudbranson has been very vocal with his teammates while in the defensive zone, barking out orders and assignments from his position near the front of the net. You know, the Maple Leafs could use a guy just like that...Does anyone know if Gudbranson has a brother? [Editor’s note: Hardev has been flogged for this comment]

Some early score-effects have started to plague the Marlies in the second as the Rocket have brought the shot-clock back up to a respectable 25-23. That being said, the Rocket did have two power play opportunities in the game (Moore and Rosen both for hooking) compared to the Marlies’ one (that they scored on).

Third Period

6-0

Andreas Johnsson gets in on the action. First, Johnsson uses his Rich Clune-made strength to fend off a Laval defenseman from the blueline all the way into the opponent’s crease. Then, he unleashes his NHL-calibre shot, rifling the puck to the top left corner of the net.

Put this man in the NHL right now.

7-0

Rinat Valiev goes to the net, and no one on the Rocket decide to follow him. Bracco feeds him the puck and the defenseman who was called up to the Leafs not too long ago gets his second of the season. Bracco now has three assists on the night. The first three-point night of his young AHL career.

7-1

Calvin Pickard loses his shutout with 6:24 left on the clock. Markus Eisenschmid steals the puck from Chris Mueller as he was trying to break the puck out from the side of the net and slides the puck through the five-hole of Pickard. The Marlies faithful made sure to give their netminder a nice ovation for his 30-save performance before the 31st shot went in.

After the Buzzer

  • The Toronto Marlies have the dirtiest goaltending duo in the NHL and it’s not even fair. Sparks is leading the league with a .944 SV% with his buddy Picks in third pace (.931 SV%). In terms of goals against average, Sparks and Pickard are one and two in the league. Both have played over 1000 minutes in the AHL this season. Keefe said this about his goaltending tandem after the win:

We’ve come to expect great goaltending from them. Having those guys as a back-bone has been great for us. Calvin Pickard has brought out the best in Garret Sparks in so many ways. I spoke to Sparks about this and he actually mentioned it to me that Pickard pushes him every day, their personalities mesh extremely well, it’s a great fit.

Calvin Pickard stopping pucks against the Laval Rocket
Credit: Christian Bonin/TSGphoto.com
  • Just when you think the Marlies are going to take a step back with three full-time Marlies up with big club, you see players like Jeremy Bracco, Calle Rosen, and Andreas Johnsson step up and produce like it’s nothing. Sheldon Keefe had this to say about his top player:

I didn’t know Johnny (Johnsson) when he got here, I didn’t know he was a 7th round pick. Since he’s been here he’s shown a lot of really good things. He warrants a much higher pick and much higher attention. He’s proving to be a dominant player that’s just waiting for his opportunity.

  • Alex Gudbranson had a nice and quiet game for the Marlies, nothing too exciting on either end of the ice. Coaches love that kind of stuff, just ask Sheldon Keefe:

He played this back-to-back here for us and gave us good minutes. He didn’t play a lot for us but when he moved the puck up the rink, he was in good spots defensively. I am very familiar with him from back in my time in Sault Ste. Marie so there’s a trust-factor there. He’s a guy, when he comes up, who is very willing to learn and willing to listen.

Defenseman Alex Gudbranson wearing #34 with the Toronto Marlies
Credit: Christian Bonin/TSGphoto.com