Nylander scores Hat Trick as Marlies bounce back in Game 4

Photo Credit: Christian Bonin/TSGPhoto.com

Certain people in this city slammed the panic button this week. After the traumatic 8-2 blowout in Game 3, observers were quick to declare the Toronto Marlies’ season as a wasted effort, and that William Nylander’s lack of production was a sign that he wasn’t the player everybody felt that he was.

Apparently, the young Swede and his teammates disagreed with this sentiment. The Marlies bounced back in a big way tonight, as Nylander scored a Hat Trick and the Marlies outshot the Bears by nearly double in a commanding 5-0 victory. 

Toronto had control of this game from the very start but took some time getting on the score sheet, but Nylander put them on the board in the last minute of the first. A wrist shot fed to him by TJ Brennan put the team up with 32 seconds left in the period, setting the tone for the rest of the game that followed.

History repeated itself late in the second period. This time, Connor Carrick was the setup man, and Nylander’s wrister proved fully-loaded once again as it beat Justin Paters for the second time of the night. This meant a multi-goal lead for the Marlies for the first time in this series. As anybody who watched Game 3 would tell you, though, the game doesn’t stop after 40 minutes. Toronto needed to keep the motors spinning to avoid a meltdown like Wednesday.

Not only did they do so, they did it in a way that may have reversed the tide of this series.

Five minutes into the third period, Jakub Vrana, who had been having a chippier-than-usual game, was sent to the box for holding, putting Toronto on their second powerplay of the game. After a battle in front of the net, Josh Leivo managed to squeeze the puck past Peters to give his team insurance. Frustrated, Aaron Ness crosschecked Leivo into Peters. Not seeing the hit, Tyler Lewington freaked out, immediately attacking Leivo for actions he didn’t actually commit. This gave Toronto another powerplay, in which Connor Carrick saw a clear chance to score on his former team. That’s exactly what he did, going top-shelf and giving his teammates of the past a good look at his jersey in celebration.

Naturally, this just angered the Bears more, which led to this dangerous hit from Madison Bowey on Kasperi Kapanen a few minutes later.

I’m going to break away from the good vibes for a few minutes. First off, this is a reckless, dangerous hit. It’s a targeted elbow to the head, and it absolutely deserves consideration for a suspension. The referees felt the same way, giving him five minutes and a game for it. But what happened afterward is the talk of social media right now.

While Kapanen was down on the ice, Bowey had some words for him. The accepted opinion is that he said “get up, you [homophobic slur that begins with an f]”. It’s not the most unreasonable assumption, especially after Andrew Shaw’s slur in the NHL playoffs a few weeks ago.

With that said, we should tread very carefully when accusing players of saying things so obviously and terribly offensive and demeaning to an entire demographic of people. The gravity of the accusation isn’t quite as strong as the gravity of the word, but it’s still tarnishing to one’s reputation. 

With Shaw, the context made it obvious what he was saying. Here, I’m not sure.

I’m not a lip reading expert, but my initial thought was that “faker” was the last word. It’s also a two-syllable F-word, and given that Kapanen was on the ground appearing to be injured, it fits the context much more. I consulted a local mirror and, upon saying the two words several times, concluded that their lip motions are nearly identical. I genuinely believe that’s what was said here.

If I’m wrong, and it’s the homophobic slur, Bowey deserves an even longer suspension than the one he deserves for the hit. No question. Even the lightest of head hits are unacceptable, and the same goes for even the most casual homophobia is as well. But I’ll wait to hear from league officials before throwing out the accusation, with all things considered. 

Back to the game. The Marlies had a five-minute powerplay, and you could tell that Nylander wanted that third goal. It was vital for the 20-year-old, who has disappointed some with his 7-in-12 point output heading into tonight. Late in the man-advantage, with his dad and brother watching in the stands, he got it.

The crowd, who was already well into the game at this point, showed no mercy to Peters, Bronx cheering him with every safe and jeeringly calling out his name. Suddenly, it was the Bears who were lifeless, and a little angry, as the final buzzer sounded.

The series is now at 3-1. Still a very tough challenge, but a little less difficult than it was 48 hours prior. A good effort was the absolute baseline for Toronto tonight with their season on the line, and this may have been their best all season. The team was aggressive, eager, and relentless from beginning to end. Antoine Bibeau’s night was made easy by those in front of him, but even he looked very good, and was rewarded with a 17-save shutout.

Toronto’s next chance to extend this series comes on Sunday, when they’ll play a weekend afternoon game that they’ve been so good at throughout the course of the regular season. Will they keep things up? That remains to be seen. But suddenly, hope has returned, internally and externally.

  • Gary Empey

    Sheldon Keefe scratched Leipsic and Carrick up front and added Gauthier and Loov. This game looked more like a Babcock coached game. All the Marlies played good defensive hockey. This reduced the quality chances they were previously giving up. Bibeau was able to come up with nice stops when called upon. Marlies then slowly picked the Bears apart forcing them to open up, to catch up. If Keefe continues the same strategy the Bears will make it back to the woods in time to pick some wild strawberries.

    After Bowey’s elbow to Kapinen’s face, folks are sayig he called him a fukc!n’ f*g as he lay on the ice.

    Trash talk is always allowed. Making derogatory remarks about race, religion, and sexual orientation crosses the line into human rights violations. There is no room for this in our society, especially in the workplace.

  • Kanuunankuula

    I’m glad you included the hit on Kapanen in the review – I’m getting used to a ban on discussion of any physical play. And thanks, also, on not rubbing it in by going on about how Marlies responded with goals blah blah blah…

    That was one dirty hit. That kid should be out of the series. If he happens to come back he needs to face retribution. It’s not ok to let those kinds of plays go unpunished – Willy or Mitch Marner may well be next.

    Kapanen just can’t catch a break – he’s in between ‘too soft for the NHL’ and ‘highly skilled clutch sniper’. That’s 2 skilled forwards down now. Any word on his status? Little Andreas is probably still in the dark room and who knows if he’ll ever be back.

  • Mitch92

    Woohoo – what a great game last night! All the doubters will soon be back on the marlies playoff train by the time the team qualiies to the finals. The marlies just had a few games of bad luck and now superior skill is trumping luck.
    #marlies caldercup

  • Brent Wisken

    Even if the Marlies lose the series, people need to keep in mind that they made it to the final four with one of the youngest AHL teams. For instance, Nylander and Kapanen entered the league this year as 19 year olds, whereas most 19 year old players are not eligible for the AHL.

  • magesticRAGE

    I posted something like this earlier, but somehow it is not showing up. We probably do not need the writer here to help Bowie in the alibi dept. Hockey especially at that level is a competitive hard business with language that does not belong on the street and after delivering a deliberate elbow to the head Kapanen would certainly not be “faking” it. Brutal hit.

    • I don’t think Kapanen was faking it; I just think that’s a much more logical thing for Bowey to say.

      It’s not about creating an alibi, but rather giving someone the benefit of the doubt when there’s room fot it.

  • magesticRAGE

    Well, this game shows the depth of the Marlies, and the importance of the physical element to hockey. I liked how Keefe coached this game, ramping up the physicality, effort, and dressing 7 defensemen. It was really me that Lööv has sat out games, he’s probably their most dependable defenseman next to Campbell. I thought Gauthier really clogged up the neutral zone and provided a good forecheck, timely draws. This game was Soshnikov’s better games, as he has his physical game back (probably feels healthy now), being a real pest. This game also confirmed that Leivo is an NHL player, and will be signed as soon as the Calder has been handed out.
    Great game.

  • Harte of a Lion

    I bet there isn’t a single reader that could take that elbow/forearm to the head against the glass and skate off under their own power. Give Kapanen props for his toughness… I hope he isn’t hurt too badly, he has been one of the teams better players game in/out even if his points don’t reflect it.

    I never realized his skill level and skating ability and for those who continue to toss his name around in silly trade proposals, he will be a decent player in the NHL.