Photo Credit: Christian Bonin/TSGPhoto.com
One of the best things about having a never-ending prospect pool is that when players graduate, your minor league systems aren’t completely decimated. Even still, there’s a limit, which many felt the Toronto Marlies would hit when their entire top line (William Nylander, Kasperi Kapanen, and Zach Hyman), and play driving utility forward Nikita Soshnikov headed up to the Maple Leafs.
If today was any indication, that won’t be the case. Armed with a few alternative reinforcements, the Marlies handily beat the second overall by a score of 4-0.
The Marlies took control of this game from the start, and didn’t really let go. Frederik Gauthier took advantage of a scramble in front of the net, picked up the loose puck, turned around, and slipped home his fifth goal of the season to open the scoring just two and a half minutes in. Not even two minutes later, Tobias Lindberg added insurance with his first goal in the Leafs organization.
Lindberg blasted home his second of the game midway through the second period, effectively ending any serious hopes of a rally by the Devils, who had peppered Antoine Bibeau early in the frame. Toronto made matters a bit trickier for themselves throughout the remainder of the game by getting into penalty trouble but even that couldn’t stop them as Mark Arcobello turned a Stuart Percy infraction into a shorthanded snipe that ended up being the game’s final goal.
Certainly, it was a fun game for the kids to watch. This was the second of three school day games this year, and it was unsurprisingly full and loud. Many of the middle schoolers sitting below the press box insisted on knowing why Lindberg’s third-period shot, which clearly rang off the post, didn’t count. Lindberg probably felt the same way internally, but the pair of tallies are definitely a solid coming-out party for a player who hadn’t scored since January 30th. Coincidentally, that goal came against the Marlies in the very same building before his trade to the organization.
All things considered, the Marlies got a lot of help from players who were considered part of their supporting cast. Lindberg’s contributions were obvious, but seeing players like Gauthier, Colin Smith, Sam Carrick, and Justin Holl make an impact on the stat sheet was big for them. Nobody stepped up more than Antoine Bibeau, though, who picked up his first shutout of the season. This sequence in the second period, in particular, is one of the best that I’ve ever seen from him, even if he did receive a bit of help from Andrew Campbell.
With the win, the Marlies move to 43-10-4 on the season, good for a points percentage of 0.789. In a best case scenario, Toronto could clinch a playoff spot as early as Saturday. That is not a typo.