March 29 2014 03:47PM
The Toronto Marlies are getting closer and closer to the tipping point; a spot where they can worry less about their spot in the standings and more about the roster that they'll dress come playoff time. In an ideal situation, the team will clinch a playoff spot as early as tomorrow evening. The easiest route to that included a win against the Iowa Wild today, but that wasn't what they got, instead losing 2-1 in the shootout.
The first period was one where the Marlies stayed in relative control, although they had their moments of struggle. These came from a pair of penalty kills. One driven by the ever-moving stick of Jerred Smithson, and one from a Hip Check by Sam Carrick that was called as a trip. The latter tuned into a fight with Kyle Medvec, the second scrap in as many minutes (Josh Leivo and Bryce Aneloski exchanged blows minutes before).
Scoring was opened seven minutes into the second period, as Jamie MacQueen caught Garret Sparks moving and slipped it through his five hole. It was a tight period beyond that; the teams exchanged a couple of powerplays, but not much happened. Early into the third period, Peter Holland tucked a puck around Johan Gustafsson and tied the game. Toronto continued to press for a game winner, but couldn't do anything before the end of regulation.
In overtime, TJ Brennan had his stick slashed out of his hands from behind the net. After an A+ soccer play to keep possession of the puck, the Marlies almost won the game before the ref blew his whistle, but a Josh Leivo shot sailed wide. They headed off to a powerplay, which had a few near goals but nothing good enough to give them the win. None of the Marlies were able to score in the shootout, and the game ended in favour of the Minnesota Wild affiliate.
- I said Marlies things on TSN1050 today, so go listen to that.
- Toronto is now 6-1-1 in their past eight games.
Garret Sparks started in net, and had another solid game game. That MacQueen goal seemed like one that he'd like to have back, but with 25 saves on 26 shots, I don't think he's losing sleep. On the note of goalies, Drew MacIntyre was scratched, but it was only to give him a night off with Christopher Gibson still being up.
Eric Knodel didn't do anything spectacularly good or bad. The only thing that made him particularly noticeable is his massive body, really. That said, the best defensive play is usually the type you don't notice, so you can't exactly fault him for it. He was placed on a pairing with Stuart Percy, while Korbinian Holzer sat out.
TJ Brennan picked up an assist today. He's in his worst scoring drought of the season, but that's more luck driven than anything; he's playing the same hockey as always, throwing lots of shots on net and being unspectacular but solid defensively. It's closer to "regression" than it is to "slump", if I had to describe the recent play, which is of no fault to him.
Trevor Smith saw himself scratched today as part of the forward rotation. It's crazy to see how much dept this team has, that they can comfortably scratch their over point per game captain for the sake of development.
I'm a big fan of what Brandon Kozun has contributed to this team this year, but I have to say, that pushing and shoving to negate a powerplay late in the third period is probably at the bottom of the list.
The Marlies take on the Abbotsford Heat tomorrow at Ricoh Coliseum. It's a 4PM start.