It’s not often you see the Marlies score six goals in a game and still lose. On Tuesday night they did just that, and it was actually their second 7-6 loss to the Belleville Senators this season. Back on November 9th, the Marlies lost 7-6 too, though that game didn’t go to overtime.
In either case, this was a tough loss for the team. The Senators scored the game winner with only 49 seconds left on the clock in OT. That was after the Marlies had made a third period comeback scoring twice to tie the game in the third.
However, the Marlies still walked out of Coca-Cola Coliseum with one point in the standings, and a lot of names highlighted on the scoresheet. Those six goals were scored by six different Marlies players.
Marlies Lines on Tuesday
Tanner MacMaster debuted for the team Tuesday night; he was acquired in a trade for Stefan Leblanc. Martin Marincin also played his first Marlies game of the season after being waived by the Maple Leafs and sent west on Lake Shore Blvd. to play at the Coliseum. This caused a shuffle of the lineups from Saturday’s game, which was already changed form Friday because of a long-term injury to Mason Marchment.
Tom Sestito was benched and Dmytro Timashov replaced him on the fourth line. Martin Marincin bumped Frank Corrado down one line, who in turn sent Sam Jardine to the pressbox.
I don’t see a point walking you through all thirteen goals in this game, or how and why they were scored, though if you like you can watch all of them on YouTube in the game-in-six here.
I will pick out a favourite of the game; the third period goal by Andreas Borgman, because what is the Senators defence even doing here? How does he get behind all of them like that and they apparently have no clue he is even there?
Instead of looking through all the other goals, let’s talk about some individual Marlies in and around this game.
Bracco had a goal and an assist in the game, moving him to 13 goals and 32 assists this season. That’s 45 points in 46 games, 20 of which came on the power play. Those 45 points put him behind only his oft-linemate Chris Mueller on a raw points all-situations basis this season. His shooting percentage of 16.3% is high, though it’s not the highest on the team. Overall he’s looked like a great playmaker. Chris Mueller agrees, “I know when he has the puck, he’s looking to make a play, so I try to get to a dangerous area.” The reverse is also true about the pair as you can see in this goal video.
Mueller added they’ve built up their chemistry through the whole season, and he is impressed by Bracco’s confidence on the ice. “When you start early in the year, when you have a little chemistry, you get confidence. Once you get confidence in this game you can do [all that] you want.”
Of course, we’ve seen great playmakers on the team before whose careers top out with a few NHL auditions, like Seth Griffith. Confidence alone isn’t always enough. For right now though, it’s too early to know where Bracco can go with his skills. He’ll turn 22 years-old in about two months. There’s room to grow and time to get his try-out. That is if any space actually opens up on those very crowded Maple Leafs wings.
Did he ever look great on Thursday. Quick, and more importantly, quick to react. He stepped back on to the team and played like he had been with them all season. In the second period he double-shifted on a PK, playing first with Vincent LoVerde and then Frank Corrado. He didn’t skip a beat the whole time.
Sheldon Keefe was impressed with him, and quipped that he almost looked like he didn’t belong on the Marlies; he looked like he belonged in the NHL. “You’d like to think we’d have a better defensive display with him back there, but the thing I liked about it is that he came in and played with a lot of confidence offensively. You’re not really afforded those opportunities in the NHL game,” he added “It’s good to see him having fun out there.”
After the Game
Sheldon Keefe was not pleased with the effort of the team in Tuesday’s game. “It’s a major step backwards again for our team, I thought, defensively. We just played with no purpose at all throughout the game.”
He has frequently commented that you can’t win when you only score once, and tonight noted the opposite. “We should win 100% of the games where we score four goals, let alone six.” However, Keefe’s comments were not specifically directed at his goaltender. He called out the top forward line specifically. “Today we played with no structure at all,” then added criticism of his first line, saying “That top line that just did whatever they wanted out there tonight. I think that’s pretty embarrassing for our team. It’s been that way most of the season.”
Keefe has never held back deserved criticism of his players after a game, but often dulls it when it’s a one-off failure. What he said Tuesday was quite pointed and direct, specifically calling out one line, and saying it’s a long-term issue.
All that being said, they got the OT loss point last night, in part because of that top line, and the Marlies have sneaked their way up the standings to third in the AHL North Division.
The Marlies play the Thunderbirds (Florida Panthers affiliate) on Saturday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. EST. Keefe hinted that Timothy Liljegren is unlikely to return this weekend, but we likely will see another injured Marlies defender back in a game. “[Rasmus] Sandin is really close. We’re hopeful that he’ll be ready,” he said about his potential to be in Saturday’s game.
Saturday’s game is Star Wars night! May the force be with you, Marlies.