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Marlies get Calle Rosen back as they try to sweep round one with a win tonight

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The Marlies, under-powered and outshot, won two road games to take a 2-0 lead in their first-round series.

Christian Bonin | TSGPhoto

Calle Rosen along with Trevor Moore, Martin Marincin and Michael Hutchinson are all eligible for the AHL playoffs. So far, only Rosen has been returned to the team.

The Toronto Marlies began their defence of the Calder Cup a few days ago with a different roster than they’d played most of the season with.

With Michael Hutchinson on the Maple Leafs, they had Kasimir Kaskisuo and Eamon McAdam in net. McAdam had split the regular season exactly in half, playing 19 games in the AHL and ECHL. Kaskisuo had played 30 games for the Marlies, struggling at times to help the team compete. The turning point in the Marlies season was the arrival of Hutchinson, and he was clearly their best goalie.

The Marlies also lost their top pairing defenders in Calle Rosen and Martin Marincin. Marincin, who spent most of his season not playing, but on the Leafs roster, appeared in eight games for the Marlies, but anyone who saw him last season on the team, knows he is top class. Rosen was arguably overlooked for some end of season AHL awards after he moved to the NHL, but his season was excellent.

And then there’s Trevor Moore. With only 46 games played, he’s sixth in points on the Marlies. Ahead of Sam Gagner, who was lost when the Canucks traded him to Edmonton, and Carl Grundstrom, who the Leafs traded to LA.

The Marlies opened their playoffs on Friday with a 4-1 win over the Rochester Americans, affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres. In that game, they were outshot 30-23, 15-6 in the first period. But Kasimir Kaskisuo stopped 29 of those shots, and the line of Chris Mueller, Nick Baptiste and Jeremy Bracco tore up the Amerks and accounted for three of the four goals. Rasmus Sandin had assists on all three.

In Game Two on Sunday, Sheldon Keefe made some bold roster moves:

Not only did he throw his youngest players in the deep end as the top pair, he added on newly-signed junior graduate Mac Hollowell, and rookie free agent, Joseph Duszak as his third pair. Vincent LoVerde, and Steve Oleksy, as the seventh defender, were the only defencemen on the ice older than 23, and the extra man was a nice insurance move while the youth got to try to be the backbone of the team.

The Marlies got outshot again, worse this time, 42-23, 18-7 in the first period and 12-5 in the second. The Amerks were up 2-0. At that point, it was a legitimate question if this game was being tossed away as a learning experience, considering the Marlies and Kaskisuo had already stolen home ice back from the Amerks. Mueller and Bracco had more magic up their sleeves, however, and they teamed up for the first goal (assist to Sandin again) on the power play. Bracco added a second to tie the game late in the third, and then, in a flip of the script — he’s a passer more than a goal scorer — he scored the winner in OT, from Mueller, of course. Kaskisuo made 40 saves.

After these two games, the only AHL goalie with a better save percentage than his .958, in at least two games played, is Andre Hammond. That’s getting hot at exactly the right time.

On paper, the Marlies shouldn’t be in this position. While they have explosive offence, they won these two games in a very high-risk way, and relied on the goalie who didn’t have it all season long. But they are here, and they don’t have to give the wins back.

They are a better team with Rosen than without him, but the question has to remain, can they go deep without Hutchinson back? Hutchinson requires waivers to be sent to the AHL, and Rosen does not. So we might have more news later today.

The Marlies play Game Three tonight at 7:00 p.m., at home, and you can watch on AHL TV, Leafs TV, and the game will be streamed free via the Maple Leafs app.