A week that saw the “Royal road-trip” get fully underway with three games against Eastern Conference rivals.
A Wednesday school day game in Hartford began proceedings and got Toronto off to the perfect start with a resounding win. The man of the moment, Mark Arcobello, opened the scoring after eight minutes but it would prove the only goal through the first two periods. A two goal salvo in 25 seconds,
inside the first five minutes of the final frame broke the game open, courtesy of Kapanen and Ryan Rupert. Further markers from Soshnikov and Panik were the icing, and the cherry on top came via the first shutout of the season for the Marlies and a fine performance from Garret Sparks.
A visit to Utica is rarely an easy encounter and Friday night was no different. In truth the Marlies were far from their best, especially in their own zone, but remained resilient. Coming back twice to tie things up in the opening frame through Bailey and Kapanen. A goal from T.J Brennan in the third (one that Markstrom would want back) gave Toronto a lead heading into the third but Utica quickly climbed back in front with two quick tallies before Nylander sniped one home to tie the game at four. The most exciting overtime so far failed to break the deadlock and it was off to the shootout for the second time this year. Arcobello and Nylander both scored as the Marlies won 2-0 in the skills show.
Toronto had already lost in Binghamton this season, a 5-1 defeat that let this young team know that things are not always easy in the AHL. A controlled and disciplined performance saw them pay Binghamton back in kind, despite the Senators propensity for playing a game that pushes the boundaries of the rules. A three goal, second period blast opened up the game with markers from Nylander, Campbell and Panik. Hyman tallied short-handed early in the third period and despite Binghamton breaking Sparks’ shutout bid, Toronto responded with a pair of Brennan goals to seal a 6-1 victory.
Carrick received another match penalty, this time for standing up to noted AHL enforcer (I’m being polite when I call him that) Zack Stortini, while Justin Johnson fought Guillaume Lepine who had elbowed Leivo in the head.
William Nylander led the way with two goals, three assists and a shootout tally to boot. He’s currently fourth in all AHL points scorers (14 points in 12 games).
T.J Brennan was right up there with Nylander, three goals and two assists for the former Eddie Shore winner and he’s at PPG game through 12 games, leading all AHL defensemen.
Kasperi Kapanen played just twice but scored in both games.
Mark Arcobello continues to produce and has tallied a point in every game thus far. A goal, three helpers and a shootout winner for him this week.
Richard Panik scored his first in a Marlies uniform, followed it with a second and an assist for a three point week.
Josh Leivo is quietly going about his business in a very effective manner, with three assists this week. Nine of Josh’s ten points have come at even strength.
It was also a week of firsts.
Zach Hyman tallied his first professional and Marlies goal, which in the process was Toronto’s first shorthanded tally of the season.
Casey Bailey also scored his first goal for the Marlies but was his second professional goal having tallied for the Leafs last season.
My man of the week would be Garret Sparks. A 30 save shutout got things off to the perfect start for him and despite allowing four goals in Utica he was still excellent, no more so than in the five minutes of overtime and then in the shootout. Turning aside 34 of 35 shots in Binghamton, was another fine performance and sends a message with Antoine Bibeau out of the picture right now. I tip my hat to Garret after some inconsistent performance to begin the season. He’s won his last four outings, allowing just six goals.
UPDATE*** Hours after publishing, the AHL agreed with me on Sparks and made him the CCM/AHL player of the week. http://theahl.com/sparks-ahl-player-of-the-week-p200250 ***
I try to stay away from throwing statistics around as I know many of you can’t stand them but here goes in any case.
The Toronto Marlies are now 4-0-0-0 on this road-trip and riding a five game winning streak.
They are the first AHL team to ten wins and the first to hit the 50 goal mark.
Strong front runners, the Marlies are a perfect 8-0-0-0 when leading after two periods of play.
Special teams, specifically the penalty kill, were good this week. The power play tallied twice through 15 attempts, but more importantly the PK stood firm on 13 occasions when called upon. It’s currently second best in the league as I write.
Kasperi Kapanen didn’t play Saturday and is listed as day-to-day.
Andrew Campbell is in the same boat after leaving Saturday’s game during the second period and not returning. Sheldon Keefe expects both to be fit enough to take part in upcoming games.
Unlike previous November road-trips, the Toronto Marlies will be able to head home before the next leg, a visit to St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Two weekend games will be the first time these North Division rivals have faced one another this season and now of course the IceCaps are affiliated with Montreal, so some hostilities will be renewed there.
St. John’s currently own a 7-5-1-1 record and are having trouble keeping the puck out of their net, averaging almost 3.5 goals against per game.
Fri, Nov 13, 2015 Toronto at St. John’s 7:30 pm NST
Sat, Nov 14, 2015 Toronto at St. John’s 7:30 pm NST