Okay maybe “snorefest” was too harsh of a word, the Toronto Marlies actually played really well against the Laval Rocket, but as someone who had been waiting for a Marlies home game so he could watch some *goals*, I left the game wanting more.
Personal quips aside, it was a solid and very telling win for the Marlies. They out-shot the Rocket 37-15 in a 1-0 overtime victory on the coattails of Chris Mueller’s power play goal. Oh, and let’s not forget that Michael Hutchinson earned his first shutout of the season. He didn’t need to work too hard for it, but they don’t ask how.
Just for fun, here were the Marlies tonight pic.twitter.com/PtChZvu0wh— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) February 2, 2019
This was the team’s first game without Carl Grundstrom, but the big left-winger’s absence wasn’t felt until the Marlies lost their second-line LW in Mason Marchment. The rumour of his injury isn’t good, but we’ll get into that at the end of this article.
When Adam Brooks also fell down due to injury in the third period, the Marlies were forced to only play three forward lines. Nevertheless, the team banded together and persevered through the adversity. A lot of players had to take on spot shifts with players they normally don’t play with, but they were still able to play a complete and cohesive game, a lot of times I didn’t even noticed that the lines were all messed up. I think a lot of teams, especially in the NHL, would envy the ability to do that on any given night. (This is my subtweet to you, Leafs).
But anyway, let’s get on with the game, followed by the Marchment, Brooks, Liljegren, and Sandin injury updates.
The Marlies have deployed relatively identical lines for much of January with only the occasional defenseman and 4RW stepping out, but as a result of the Carl Grundstrom trade there has been a few more changes.
Pierre Engvall has been up on the first line since January 9th, a result of both Engvall and Dmytro Timashov beginning to get stale in their previous roles. Engvall was dying on the fourth line, hungry for some more action. Timashov was becoming a full-fledged complimentary player and wasn’t driving play, taking shots, and playing defense as well as the team was hoping. As a result of all that, head coach Sheldon Keefe decided to swap his two left wingers. He said in an interview that he had asked Engvall to wait on the fourth line until a spot opened up, almost a year later he finally made good on that promise.
On defense, Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin continue to mend a high-ankle sprain and an elbow sprain respectively. Stefan LeBlanc has done a great job so far in his time with the Marlies on the third pair, I’ve really liked his play this season.
(Thank god Tom Sestito is back in the pressbox. That experiment couldn’t have ended quicker).
Pierre Engvall - Chris Mueller - Jeremy Bracco
Mason Marchment - Josh Jooris - Sam Gagner
Trevor Moore - Adam Brooks - Gabriel Gagne
Rich Clune - Colin Greening -Dmytro Timashov
Calle Rosen - Vincent LoVerde
Andreas Borgman - Frank Corrado
Stefan LeBlanc - Sam Jardine
The first period was relatively quiet with no goals scored on either side. Alexandre Alain took a tripping penalty midway through the frame, but the Marlies failed to score on the power play. The first unit of Gagner-Mueller-Bracco-Moore-Rosen was good and got a few shots off, but no goals.
The other biggest highlight I could find was the moment when Rich Clune crashed into the boards by accident. He’s been a pleasant change from Tom Sestito, who would normally crash into the wall with his elbow and an opponent’s head sandwiched in between.
Rich Clune just picked a fight with the wall. He lost, but appears to be okay. Keep yourself together, Dicky!— Nikita Zaitsev appreciator (@HardevLad) February 2, 2019
0-0 midway through the first #Marlies
I thought the first half of the period, the Marlies were in their own zone a lot. My first glance at the shot clock saw them ahead 4-3 in the first half of the period, by the end, they were holding a commanding 11-4 advantage. Right at the end of the period, David Sklenicka took a slashing penalty on Engvall as a result of some scrumming after the final whistle had gone.
The best chance on the power play came off the stick of Engvall. He grabbed a cross-ice pass at the top of the far faceoff dot and absolutely wired a shot to the top corner of the post. The puck rang off a hard *clang* before bouncing out. Engvall was a shooter from the half-wall during his time in Sweden. This year, he’s been playing both his natural position as well as in front of the net on the power play. After watching that shot, yeah, keep him on that shooters side. Holy crap.
15 minutes of the second period quickly ticked by, but with a little move three minutes left, we got our next closest scoring chance. With Moore in the box for slashing, the Rocket nearly finished off a strong power play with a tap in at the side of the net following a rebound from a point shot. The puck trickled off the post and was just sitting there for one of the Rocket forwards to bury, but Hutchinson came across at last second and snatched it away with his right-handed glove. The Marlies went back the other way after Moore left the box, but beyond a small scrum in front of Charlie Lindgren’s net, there wasn’t much to show.
Gotta give the Marlies defense credit for the work they did tonight. They did a great job of clearing the front of the net of both opposing bodies and pucks. Hutchinson only had to face seven shots over the first 40 minutes and his defense corps (all six of them) played a big part. Shots after 40 minutes were 22-11 in favour of Toronto despite taking the only two penalties of the period (Mueller high-sticking and Moore slashing).
The Adam Brooks injury
As the third period started to get going, the game went from boring to terrible.
Adam Brooks was trying to cut through four Laval defenders to get to the front of the net while his linemates were going on a change. He was pushed off his feet just as he began to cut in towards Lindgren, causing the 5’10”, 181 lbs center to go flying into the end boards. Brooks grabbed the back of the net to compose himself for a second before hobbling to his feet and gliding gingerly to the bench.
Once there, the trainer gave him a once-over and then immediately took him to the dressing room. Brooks had his right arm over the trainer’s shoulder and wasn’t putting any weight on that leg. I’m not a doctor but the signs are definitely not good for the nearly 23-year-old Winnipeg native.
Then astonishingly, Brooks came out for the power play with 6:41 left in the third!!! I genuinely thought he was done for the night, and possibly even for a few months after that crash. Guess this officially ends my doctoring career.
The Marlies had all the offensive zone time. They barely left the Rocket end. But no goals. Even after 36 shots in 60 minutes. The Rocket only got 15 shots in the same amount of time, for context.
Here's the shot flow for Marlies-Rocket. What a game to go scoreless in regulation. pic.twitter.com/5orWyb7vO7— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) February 2, 2019
Moore finally breathed some life into the game that felt like a futile siege all night when he burst up the middle of the ice, gave the puck away at the blueline, but got slashed and high-sticked by Daniel Audette giving the Marlies a 4-on-3 power play in overtime...
...And on the 37th shot of the game, the crowd at the Coca-Cola Coliseum FINALLY got a goal when Mueller tapped in a centring pass from Bracco. FINALLY!
After the Whistle
- Timashov was turning into a complimentary player on the first line, and wasn’t getting much done on the whole either. He’s now on the fourth line (and has been for much of January) having to learn to drive his line. Timashov is a player who will pass on an open net, and despite having a promising shot a few years ago, still never uses it. Timashov had only one shot in this game, and it was a beauty of a chance coming in from the faceoff dot with no one in front of him in the first period that Lindgren stole with the glove. Despite not scoring, I think Keefe was happy with the result (he said as much in the post-game). Timashov needs to drive the play and shoot more, so if putting him on the fourth line will do that for him, good.
(It’ll also help him learn how to play defense, which he desperately needs to do).
- Somehow, despite definitely looking like he broke his leg, Adam Brooks was totally fine after only missing 10 minutes of game-time.
- Mason Marchment left the game early in the first period and did not return. According to Jacob Stoller, Marchment will be out for 2-3 months with a fractured collarbone. Keefe only went as far to say that he will be out for at least a week, so we’ll see how this progresses. I generally trust Soller’s sources on this kind of stuff.
- Also from the post-game scrum, Rasmus Sandin has been upgraded from “week-to-week” to “day-to-day” with respect to his sprained elbow injury. Sandin participated in a full practice this week and should be back within the next four games, which will all be in Toronto.
- Old news but I thought I might as well add it. This was the first game back from the AHL All-Star weekend for the Marlies. This is the time for when 19-year-old RHD Timothy Liljegren is expected to return from his high-ankle sprain. Hopefully within the next week or so we see him playing some games for the Marlies.