Marlies Monday: February 1, 2016
The Toronto Marlies took five points from a possible six, but were far from their best, with the All-Star break probably coming at the right time.
They’ve been playing some sloppy hockey of late which is probably a combination of tiredness due to a hectic schedule and an over-reliance, perhaps cockiness in knowing that their offensive capabilities can often dig them out of holes.
A double header in Grand Rapids began with an 11am school day game on Wednesday.
It was the Griffins who held sway for the vast majority of this game but they would be denied by a shutout from Garret Sparks. Toronto’s goaltender made 39 saves, 18 of those in the third period as he weathered the home teams surge almost single-handedly at times. Grand Rapids could count themselves unfortunate to strike iron a couple of times but you could argue Sparks earned that luck.
Toronto’s best spell in the opening period would see them jump out to a two goal lead in the space of 95 seconds. Mark Arcobello and Matt Frattin were the goal scorers and a strike from Connor Brown made it 3-0 six minutes into the second period. An empty netter from Frattin sealed the 4-0 win in the third period but these two points were earned by the brilliance of Sparks.
Friday’s re-match saw Grand Rapids finally score against Toronto but a late comeback from the Marlies garnered them a somewhat undeserved victory.
The home team opened their account with a short-handed goal from Andy Miele in an opening period where they out-shot Toronto 16-7. The middle frame was much more even and T.J Brennan tied the game up on a beautiful pass from the returning William Nylander. The Griffins would retake the lead six minutes into the third period and it’s a lead they would hold until 6:22 to play.
Justin Holl drove to the net and slid the puck home after a patient spell of puck possession from Toronto. With under two minutes remaining it was Zach Hyman who put home a rebound for the game winner and Leipsic scored the empty netter for a 4-2 victory. Once again though Toronto were thankful for stellar goaltending. This team it was Antoine Bibeau who made 38 saves and had no chance with the two goals.
A return to home ice on Saturday afternoon proved to be a torrid affair for the Marlies as they contrived to throw away a lead but still somehow grabbed a point despite trailing twice in the third period.
Binghamton began well but Toronto took the lead through “on loan” Josh Leivo. In the first of many mental letdown’s, the Marlies allowed the visitors to tie the game up in the space of 85 seconds.
Leivo’s second goal inside a minute of the second period was followed by a powerplay marker from Arcobello with just under five to play. Binghamton responded through a power play goal of their own 34 seconds later. A second goal on the man advantage 56 seconds into the third period drew the visitors level and they would go ahead on six minutes with a short-handed tally.
This time it was Toronto’s turn to respond promptly as Hyman scored short-handed.
Binghamton made have though they’d won the game with a goal from Colin Greening at 16:22 but Brown retorted twenty seconds later and this game headed to overtime.
Brennan came closest to winning the game for Toronto but his effort rang off the post and the officials would ultimately have the last say in a curiously called game. Valiev was clearly hauled down but no call was made, allowing Tobias Lindberg to breakaway all alone on Sparks and score to hand Toronto a 6-5 loss.
Special team were a real issue this week, no more evident than in giving up two short-handed goals.
The ten short-handed goals the Marlies have allowed this season is the league’s worst.
The penalty kill may have remained rock solid against he Griffins but the power play failed to click.
The reverse was then true in the Binghamton game, as the penalty kill gave up two goals on six opportunities and the power play went 20%.
Toronto still remain clear at the top of the AHL standings though their challengers for the top spot may now come from the West as Ontario Reign and Rockford IceHogs have surpassed Wilkes/Barre-Scranton Penguins in points percentage.
Yet another stellar week for Mark Arcobello offensively. Two goals and three assists extended his points streak to seven games. He could well challenge for the scoring title if he remains in the AHL past trade deadline.
T.J Brennan continues to lead the scoring race with five points this week, extending his streak to eight games. January was an incredible month for Brennan as he racked up six goals and twelve assists.
Connor Brown looks as good as new. Scratch that. He looks better than before the injury and there’s probably more left in the tank. A four point week for Brown who has rediscovered his goal scoring touch from last season.
Josh Leivo was loaned back to the Marlies and played just once. What an impact though with four points albeit in a loss to Binghamton. Leivo enjoyed his time in Syracuse in the All-Star event, netting two of the North Divisions three goals during the main competition on the second day.
Justin Holl made his return from injury as a game time replacement for Stuart Percy on Wednesday.
Holl has shown himself to have some offensive ability and recorded three points this past week.
His goal was something you might not have expected to be in his locker but he’s proven to be one of the finds of training camp so far.
It was a mixed week for Garret Sparks. Outstanding in the shutout posted on Wednesday, Sparks would prove to be average back in Toronto and would want at least on of those goals back the B-Sens put past him.
Antoine Bibeau’s statistics have been skewed by the infamous 9-8 game and his poor form after sitting cold with the Leafs. Just one outing this week but a fine performance, more befitting of what we’ve seen this month. January statistics for Bibeau are 2.28 GAA and a .931 save percentage
Stuart Percy, Justin Holl and William Nylander all made their return from injury.
William Nylander took part in the AHL All-Star game and enjoyed the occasion as well as the extra ice time despite not registering a point in the Challenge event on Monday.
Kasperi Kapanen failed to make an appearance through an undisclosed ailment, as did James Martin.
Sam Carrick is still out and that being the case it was a little strange to see Rylan Schwartz reassigned to Orlando.
Eric Faille was reassigned before being recalled Saturday and is currently on the Marlies roster.
Thu, Feb 4, 2016 Toronto at Manitoba 8:00 pm EST
Sat, Feb 6, 2016 Toronto at Manitoba 3:00 pm EST