Marlies take series lead with commanding 5-1 Win


Many expected the Toronto Marlies to steamroll every opponent in their path on their way through the Calder Cup Playoffs. That was an unrealistic expectation, particularly once Toronto drew the Albany Devils as their second round opponent. But these last two games have shown why people believed in the team to that extent. Hot off the heels of a 7-2 blowout, the team went from series trailers to leaders with another runaway 5-1 victory.

While the first period was quiet, the Marlies once again made the most of Albany’s penalty struggles in the second. Five seconds after Joseph Blandisi was penalized for sending the puck over the glass, Marc Arcobello won the offensive zone faceoff straight to Connor Carrick, who shifted over to the side and wristed home his fifth goal of the playoffs. Five minutes later, with Damon Severson in the box, Connor Brown added to the madness with his 5th of the postseason. 

You could see, however, that the Devils continued to be unhappy with the world around them beginning to fall apart. Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, known by many as Albany’s enforcer, landed a dangerous hit on Justin Holl along the boards and, upset with receiving a penalty, slashed William Nylander on the other side of the ice. 

Toronto didn’t respond to this play directly, but a few minutes later, they struck again. This time, Ben Smith’s work along the boards gave Rich Clune a great opportunity to set up Nikita Soshnikov for the cross-crease one timer, putting the Marlies comfortably ahead. Paul Thompson did manage to break Antoin Bibeau’s shutout before the period ended, but it was very clear at this point that the Marlies were in control.

In the final frame, Toronto had little left to accomplish but plenty of opportunity to extend their lead. They did just that; a weird bounce off of an official led to Josh Leivo having the puck on his stick behind the net, which he used to feed Brendan Leipsic for an easy goal. Leivo himself then added an empty netter.

What I found interesting about this game is, despite Dan Kelly’s suspension, the Devils didn’t let up with their more curious hits. I genuinely don’t believe that these hits are part of Rick Kowalsky’s playbook; more than anything, I wonder if these are simply the reactions of frustrated players who aren’t used to being regularly beat on the scoresheet. It’s hard to say for sure, though, seeing as this series isn’t Albany’s only stretch of, shall we say, “aggressive” play. 

In any event, the Marlies have an opportunity to put an end to it if they can close out the series. Their first chance will come on home ice as the two teams return to Toronto this weekend. Game 6 will be played at Ricoh Coliseum on Saturday afternoon; if the blue and white can keep scoring as frequently as they have over the past few days, there might not be a need for Game 7.

  • Gary Empey

    1st Period- No Scoring.

    2nd Period- C. Carrick 5 (Arcobello), 1:23 (PP). — Brown 5 -(Leivo, Arcobello), 6:38 (PP). — Soshnikov 4 (Clune, B. Smith), 15:19.

    3rd Period- Leipsic 2 (Leivo), 11:09. — Leivo 2 (Arcobello), 17:52 (EN).

  • Harte of a Lion

    I’m wondering if Nylander is 100%? Did anyone else notice he seemed to float at times tonight, had uncharacteristic giveaways and not be totally engaged in the play? Connor Carrick looks like he has been in a street fight, even little Mitch Marner has facial abrasions but Nary a mark on Willie…

    Playoffs in North American hockey are vicious, I hope he has the mental and physical acumen to succeed.

    • Capt.Jay

      I think that’s Willie’s game though. He sort of floats (illusive) and then gets into the play. He’s got a good stick but he’s never going to thunder around and take the body like Soshkinov.

      So far he’s been good but it will still be interesting to see if he can translate his game to NHL playoffs.

      This year, I think Kuznetsov on Washington learned the hard way that not all styles translate well to the NHL playoffs. Hell of a player in the regular season.

  • Capt.Jay

    I wonder if leafs management has told him to stay away from getting to involved etc. They’d much rather the marlies lose the series than risk Nylander taking another concussion in less then 6 months. Just a thought, not a fact

  • Capt.Jay

    Is it me or did the media and many bloggers basically forget about Kapennen after his disappointing NHL debut. Haven’t heard a thing about him when talking about our prospects anymore