Of course, with last week’s debut Weekly Update extended to 8 days, this one will be condensed six as a result. Considering only two of the days actually hold relevance, the numbers are just that, numbers.
This was a week where nowhere near as much was at stake for the Marlies, compared to last. After all, the three games were played against division rivals that they face a combined 32 times over the course of the season. The team was diving directly into practically force-fed rivalries that had massive standings implications. This time around, it wasn’t so much the case. Their opponents were ones that they face much less often, for one. The Syracuse Crunch are out of conference, and are only the team’s opponent twice this year. Abbotsford is a former divisional rival, and as such they still get a few more matchups out of the Marlies than most, but this was only the second of four appearances this year. Most importantly, a loss didn’t mean as much – a 12 point weekend was now a 4 point weekend.
Now that I’ve set the Marlies up for an "its okay to suck", I should mention that this was far from the case, as they’d capitalize on the rest and fewer game concentration and dominate the score sheet in both games.
Note the word "score sheet" in that last sentence as I bring up the first game. For all intents and purposes, the game should’ve been all Syracuse, as the Crunch heavily outshot Toronto 39-25. And that’s not even the worst that it was – at one point early in the second period, the shot count was an astonishing 24-12. Thankfully for the Marlies, this is a game where goals matter more than shots, as the team striked early and often. Marcel Mueller opened up the scoring just two and a half minutes in, with Mike Zigomanis following him shortly after. Little else of relevance happened for the rest of the period, other than a fight between Kelsey Wilson and Jean-Fracois Jacques at the buzzer. In the second period, Simon Gysbers widened the gap to three. The game looked to slip away from Syracuse as the shot total started to fade, but they gave the Marlies a run for their money in the third. Jacques scored a minute in, breaking Ben Scrivens’ shutout bid. Will Acton took the three goal lead back for Toronto, Patrick Maroon re-attempted a Crunch comeback, but that was the last of pucks going past Scrivens, despite increased pressure. Philippe Dupuis scored his first goal (albeit, an empty netter) as a member of the Leafs organization with just over a minute to go.
Moving on to Saturday, we saw a drastically different game. Rather than being the out-played team that found a way to pull out the win, the Marlies instead were the team doing the dominating on the ice while still doing so on paper as well. Eventually, at least. An overpowering first period, where the shot count was an astonishing 14-3 for the Marlies, offered little but a couple of unsuccessful powerplay opportunities. Matt Frattin was quick to make the second period the start of solid action though, with a shot that looked like so many of the ones we see from him going past Danny Taylor to give the team a 1-0 lead. Seven minutes later, Zigomanis widened the gap on the powerplay. However, just when it looked like the 2-0 would be taken into the third, Abbotsford struck back with a quick pair of goals in the last minute and twenty seconds to tie it up. The third was close for most of the first half, but after a Will Acton breakaway goal, the Marlies took back control. Frattin scored his second of the game a minute later, and with just under five minutes to go, Philippe Dupuis actually scored a goal past a goalie to seal the deal on another 5-2 victory.
There was a lot of rough stuff in the game against Abbotsford, and you can blame Nazem Kadri for standing up for himself and inadvertently sparking the whole thing. After being shoved around throughout the game, a mid second scrum that concluded in him throwing gloved punches at Gabriel Desbiens lead to non-stop pushing and shoving whenever he was on the ice. Eventually, the tempers game to a head and Will Acton fought Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (who has the best name ever), and ended said fight by pushing him into the Marlies bench.
Acton, by the way, has played above expectation as of late, this weekend being no exception. Article coming up on MHQ about him in the coming days.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but with 2 goals and 2 assists, I honestly believe Philippe Dupuis was the best forward for the Marlies this week. He set up a lot of creative plays, and finally added some goals to his Toronto resume. An empty netter and a tap in aren’t super impressive, but at least they’re existent. His all around play was also strong.
Matt Frattin’s two goal performance on Saturday? Amazingly, the work of only two shots.
Korbinian Holzer had another immense week on defence. Over the two games, he was a +1, had three assists, and was on for so many of the key moments of both games.
Keith Aulie’s shining moment was a failed half-break in the second game. Other than that, a total non factor who took a minor penalty in each game.
Nicolas Deschamps was held pointless and took just two shots over the course of the weekend. Also had a diving call against Syracuse in his homecoming against his former team.
Between The Pipes
Both games were given to Ben Scrivens, who posted a 2-0-0 record, a goals against average of 2.00, and a save percentage of 0.930. His performance against Syracuse was outstanding, making 37 saves. While none of those saves were highlight reel, they were necessary and he stood tall. The performance against Abbotsford wasn’t as impressive, with just 16 saves on 18 shots. The second goal against was particularly bad, but in the end, they’re attached to a commanding victory, so it’s not a huge concern.
Between the two games, the Marlies went 3 for 10 on the powerplay, and 6 for 7 on the penalty kill. A solid weekend on both ends. Something I noticed in the second game was that both powerplay units now have four forwards and one defenceman, which produced impressive results.
The Marlies have three games this week, all at home (in fact, they’re at home for the next nine). Wednesday sees the team playing a the first of three "School Day" games this season against the Rochester Americans. For those unfamiliar, School Day games are 11:00 AM matchup where most of the tickets are bought up by schools and season ticket holders. They’re the loudest games you’ll hear at Ricoh, though its a loud in a higher than usual pitch. As well, Toronto hosts San Antonio at 7PM on Friday, and Hamilton at 3PM on Sautrday. The San Antonio game will be on LeafsTV.