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Recap: Marlies sweep weekend series against Moose

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The Marlies win streak is extended to 6ix.

Christian Bonin/TSGphoto.com

The Toronto Marlies extended their winning streak to six (their second streak that long this season) with back-to-back wins over the Manitoba Moose.

Rasmus Sandin returned to the lineup Saturday after missing two games, and Michael Hutchinson stopped 32 of 34 shots on goal for the win. It was his second straight win with a big performance. Adam Brooks, Matt Read, Timothy Liljegren, and Garrett Wilson all scored to give the Marlies a four-goal lead that they held till the end.

In the second game, the Marlies separated Sandin and Liljegren, pairing the former with Jordan Schmaltz and the latter with Teemu Kivihalme. It turned into a pretty good move because after getting out-shot heavily in the first period the Marlies finished strong, finding a lead and keeping it, beating score effects in the process because they ended up out-shooting the Moose in the final two thirds of the game.

Kenny Agostino, Tanner MacMaster, and Pontus Aberg scored for the Marlies while Kivihalme scored his first AHL goal. In net, Joseph Woll played outstanding goaltending and parried away 31 of 32 for the win. Woll was really happy after the game, praising his new goaltending partner and reminding us how fun hockey is.

Game 1

Marlies Lines

Forwards

Kenny Agostino - Adam Brooks - Jeremy Bracco
Garrett Wilson - Kevin Gaudet - Matt Read
Egor Korshkov - Tanner MacMaster - Pontus Aberg
Nicholas Baptiste - Hudson Elynuik - Scott Pooley

Defense

Rasmus Sandin - Timothy Liljegren
Ban Harpur - Jordan Schmaltz
Teemu Kivihalme - Mac Hollowell

Goalies

Michael Hutchinson
Joseph Woll

The Moose had Mikhail Berdin in net for Saturday’s game. He’s a Jets draft pick from the sixth round in 2016.

First Period

Perhaps only because it’s been topical lately, I noticed right from the start of the first period how quickly the Marlies can cycle around in their own zone.

Their two power plays had some great examples of this in the first period. It’s a setup of constant movement where players go in kind of concentric rings, but in opposite directions. The defenceman is in the outermost ring and he could pass to either one of two players moving in the inner rings. I can see that essentially forcing the goalie to pick a direction—his left or his right—for where the puck will go and then be further passed. If he makes the wrong choice it creates a few moments where the goalie has to reposition, which opens a little gap for a shot to get in.

It was interesting to more closely watch all that and see elements of it in the Leafs new power play. Sandin was a big feature in this, by the way. On one occasion he stayed out for almost the entirety of the two minutes.

Liljegren pitched in nicely in five-on-five to hold the line as needed too. The possession was mostly great.

Unfortunately no one was able score in that period, but it didn’t take long before we got some goals in the second.

Second Period

Adam Brooks opened up the scoring pretty quickly.

This was his second goal of the season. It’s been a rough one for him because of injuries again this season. He can’t catch a break, it seems, so he was quite happy with this one.

The second period was all five-on-five with no penalties called for either side. There was a long sequence in the middle of the second period where about four to five minutes passed with no stoppage in play. The Marlies kept taking shots through it, but it was mostly by defenceman from the point, and they largely missed the net. However, I noticed Kivihalme out there doing some great work to keep control and get back in time when the Moose finally got possession back and tried to breakout back into the Marlies zone. He had a good game.

It wasn’t until near the the end of the second that another goal was scored and that was by Matt Read.

The period ended with the Marlies up 2-0. Then it got even better!

Third Period

The Marlies scored twice in the first two minutes of the third. There was barely any play other than what is in these highlight clips it all happened so fast, so you can watch them it all here!

First up is Liljegren taking advantage of a lack of reach by Emile Poirier (Moose #10).

One minute later it was Garret Wilson with a wrap around which required a few views of the replay to verify that it really did go in the net. “I found it on my stick behind the net

The Moose called a timeout here and did get things back in track. They started to have more possession, and the Marlies were spending much more time defendin . However, of course, they are up 4-0 here in the third period, so turtling is natural, but dangerous. Hutchinson did let in two goals from the Moose over this part of the game where they were so dominant they had 13 shots on goal in a row at one point. He was still impressive. “He’s been playing lights out,” said Wilson about his goalie, adding “He’s been standing on his head and making some big timely saves for us. He’s the real reason we’re winning right now.”


Game 2

Marlies Lines

A trio of changes from Game 1 to Game two, namely Ben Harpur’s scratch, with Teemu Kivihalme coming up and Kristians Rubins replacing him. Also, Darren Archibald returned from injury and replaced Nicholas Baptiste on the fourth line. Still waiting for that change to the third line — it’s been invisible since Wednesday.

In some housekeeping news, Mac Hollowell was sent down between games to the Newfoundland Growlers. However, on Monday, he was called back up. Still no idea why this was the case — the Marlies have a week of practices before three home games next weekend — but we’re glad he’s back. At least it sparked some trade talk for a couple hours on Marlies Twitter.

Forwards

Kenny Agostino - Adam Brooks - Jeremy Bracco
Garrett Wilson - Kevin Gaudet - Matt Read
Egor Korshkov - Tanner MacMaster - Pontus Aberg
Darren Archibald - Hudson Elynuik - Scott Pooley

Defense

Rasmus Sandin - Timothy Liljegren
Teemu Kivihalme - Jordan Schmaltz
Kristians Rubins - Jesper Lindgren

Goalies

Joseph Woll
Michael Hutchinson

First Period

It was a bad first period for the Marlies — they weren’t able to get anything going offensively in any sort of a consistent way. The only line that has been going the past few games has been the Brooks line with Agostino and Bracco. Offensively they’ve been the only line to produce shots from good areas. The third line was a major producer of chances and had some massive games, but they’ve dried up almost totally without Pierre Engvall. I don’t think MacMaster is up to the task there, especially since he’s an AHL winger playing centre between the Marlies leading scorer and the Leafs top forward prospect.

One thing I did like from the first period was the play from three defensemen in particular. Sandin is a really steady presence on the back end and really quieted his game on the defensive side. Offensively, I’ve noticed Liljegren really start to shine. Here’s a play by him to turn defense into offense with some really smart and hard work. I’m loving Lily Pad.

After One

Despite the Marlies having a power play, they were out-shot two-to-one in the first. Again, I think there needs to be changes to the forward lineup. There’s too many checkers and not enough talent to fill three lines, they’re filling more than half the lineup at this point if you include the second line because they’ve struggled to play consistent offense themselves.

Second Period

One thing you might have noticed while watching the game and the subsequent clips online is that the Marlies changed their defense pairs in the second period. Sandin was taken off Liljegren’s pair and was replaced with Kivihalme. Sandin was skating with Schmaltz instead.

I think this was a good move because it allowed Liljegren and Kivihalme to team up more on the breakouts and in their defensive zone — they seem to have better chemistry — while Sandin and Schmaltz allowed each other to do what they do best, which was hanging back in the defensive zone for Schmaltz, and holding the puck for Sandin.

Basically what I’m saying is Liljegren and Kivihalme are both more balanced players on offensive and defense, while Sandin and Schmaltz are generally more polarized. Sandin has some ways to go to catch up to Liljegren on the defensive side of the puck.

1-0

And as expected, despite getting out-shot all game, the Marlies strike first (and second). The Brooks line was once again buzzin in the offensive zone and had cycled such that Bracco was at the point and Kivihalme was making a beeline to the front of the net. However, that’s not where the point shot from Bracco went, instead, it was tipped by Agostino in the slot, up and over Mikhail Berdin. Loved the play from everyone on the ice.

2-0

Aberg beat his man around the net and sent a cross-ice pass through the blue paint to MacMaster who buried his rebound on the far side. This was a great play from Aberg to find the seam where Korshkov and MacMaster were planted. Still think a play developer would be more useful on this line. Aberg seems to be doing all the work on his own.

After Two

Better period from the Marlies. One thing I think helped the offense was that the forwards were working harder to provide outlets to the defense. They’re talented enough to make a play, but the forwards needed to be there to take it. This is a problem the Leafs have. I think the Brooks line does this better than most. Bracco is a good play in the top half of the zone.

Third Period

2-1

The Moose got a goal back early in the third period on the power play. Jansen Harkins shot a one-timer past Woll, who was diving from his left post to his right post. As he was moving, he knocked off his right post from its mooring. The referee initially called the goal off, but after a review deemed that the puck would have gone in regardless of if the post was in it’s proper spot or not.

3-1

The Marlies did quite a good job holding their lead for much of the third period until Skyler McKenzie took a reckless tripping penalty. With the chances to seal the game in hand, Aberg made no mistake with his shot from the left faceoff dot. Amazing keep in the zone from Agostino, too.

4-1 (ENG)

Teemu Kivihalme got his first AHL goal on the empty net. Kivihalme was up against the boards in his own zone but flipped the puck out and nailed the twine. He spoke after the game that it was a little anticlimactic to get his first goal that way and he hopes he can score one on an actual goalie soon.

Marlies Assistant Coach A.J. MacLean has taken over the post-game press duties. Note that he has not, nor anyone else, been named as a new Head Coach. The position is vacant for the time being. Here is MacLean talking about the weekend games.

Next Games

The Marlies made it through a whole weekend without any new player injuries! It feels like something happens to one of them each weekend to miss at least one or two games. This time they made it through all in one piece.

The Marlies have a heavy schedule ahead with three games in three days. They travel to Rochester to play the Amerks on Friday, then are back to host the Utica Comets at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday, and then at the Coliseum on Sunday. We shall call Sunday’s game a thigabababa.