The Toronto Marlies began the week by creating a piece of franchise history.
A victory against the visiting Providence Bruins, was the fifth straight win on home ice to begin the season.
The previous best was four, set in 2013-14, and we’ll have to wait under after the Royal Winter Fair has passed through town to see whether Toronto can extend that streak.
That fifth victory looked unlikely after the Bruins had opened up a two goal lead after twenty minutes.
An underwhelming first period performance from Toronto was followed by a three goal blast during the middle frame. Tobias Lindberg, Kasperi Kapanen and Brendan Leipsic all finding the net during even strength play.
A third period marker from the visitors ensured Toronto would head to overtime for the first time this season. A power play strike from Andrew Nielsen would seal the extra point and a 4-3 win.
A double-header against Albany Devils this past weekend would provide to be a feisty affair, with feelings still a little raw after last season’s seven game playoff series.
Friday night was all about Antoine Bibeau, as the goaltender turned aside all 37 shots faced, earning his second shutout of the season. Toronto had controlled the first period, out-shooting the home team 17-5 and led courtesy of goals from Colin Greening and Lindberg. The Devils grew stronger as the game progressed and the Marlies were thankful to a first professional goal from Trevor Moore with ten minutes remaining. Bibeau made 19 saves in the third period and the penalty kill remained perfect on five occasions to ensure a 3-0 victory.
Saturday’s rematch in Albany turned into something more resembling a bar-side brawl than hockey.
A plethora of fights, dangerous hits and some ridiculous calls were the order of the day, as the three-man officiating crew appeared out of their depth.
Toronto would loss Travis Dermott to injury, Andrew Campbell similarly, though he would return later, and Rinat Valiev was given a game misconduct.
Shorn of defensemen, the Marlies would fail to hold on to a 3-1 lead built up during the first half of the game.
Nielsen, Moore and Byron Froese had all hit the twine during even strength, but Albany struck early in the third period and always looked likely the complete the comeback. Tied at three, overtime would not provide a result and it was off to a shootout. Toronto failed to score on any of their first three shots and Albany’s single success was enough for them to claim the extra point.
Five points from a possible six was a good haul from a week where Toronto rarely played their best hockey.
A points percentage of 0.813 has them atop of the American Hockey League standings with a 6-1-0-1 record through eight games.
The shootout loss keeps a five game point streak going and as referenced earlier, the Marlies are yet to taste defeat on home ice.
Toronto also lead the league in goals scored. The first team to hit the thirty mark
The special teams had a sterner test this week, especially in Albany.
The penalty kill looked better though not without a few niggles to be ironed out, allowing two goals while short-handed on 14 occasions.
The power play also wasn’t without issues but proved the difference against Providence.
With the shutout on Friday night, Antoine Bibeau now holds the Toronto Marlies franchise for most shutouts, with nine. He surpasses Ben Scrivens and Jussi Rynnas who were both tied with eight.
Garret Sparks is yet to dress since recording a loss against Rochester. Sheldon Keefe reported the goaltender was feeling sore, but has not been healthy enough to back-up, with Jeff Glass assigned that role.
Travis Dermott was injured by veteran forward Brian gibbons during the carngae of Saturday night’s game. No word on the extent of the injury but Keefe confirmed the rookie was going to miss some time.
Milan Michálek may have joined the Marlies but was a healthy scratch for both games in Albany.
Rinat Valiev has now dropped the gloves four times in seven outings this season, accruing 54 penalty minutes in the process. Valiev has shown he’s not particularly adept with his fists and only once fought in support of a team-mate.
William Wrenn made his debut on Friday night, replacing Rinat Valiev in the line-up
The former San Jose draft selection played a solid game and did his chances of further ice time no harm.
Nikita Soshnikov was back to his industrious best and looks to 100% healthy now after missing a period of time in camp due to injury.
Byron Froese notched a single goal and leads the team with five.
A four point week for Brendan Leipsic, taking his tally to thirteen, of which ten are assists. He continues to lead the AHL in scoring.
Trevor Moore scored in consecutive games and is looking more at ease playing on his off-wing.
A pair of goals for Tobias Lindberg doubles his points tally and he continues to be a troublesome presence in front of net for opposition teams.
Andrew Nielsen continues to be a shining light on the blue line. Two goals and three points for him this week, including a game winner. With seven points, he’s currently fifth in rookie scoring.
Kasperi Kapanen kept up his above point per game pace with a goal and an assist.
Andrew Campbell, Viktor Loov and Travis Dermott all registered two assists, the latter now has five helpers to his name this season.