Image via Marlies.ca
After a pair of games where the Toronto Marlies have heavily outshot their opponents, but had little to show for it, something had to give tonight. Maybe it was the powerplay, which entered tonight scoreless in its past 19 opportunities. Maybe the lines needed a bit of shaking up – though that was tried on Friday to little result. Whatever the solution was, it had to be enough to reverse a 4-1 loss to the Hamilton Bulldogs the night prior to even up the season series. To the Marlies delight, they seemed to figure it all out tonight, overpowering the Bulldogs 5-0.
The first period started off with exactly what the blue and white needed – a quick goal. Set up by Nazem Kadri and Greg Scott, Greg McKegg was the man who put the Marlies up with his first of the season. Six minutes later, shortly after the failed powerplay count hit 20, Kenny Ryan scored his first of the season to make it 2-0. He wasn’t done, either, spreading the gap to three at the midway point, and followed that with a fight four minutes later. It was the second scrap of the period, with Will Acton dropping the gloves against Gabriel Dumont at the seven minute mark.
The second period continued to come with goals for Toronto. Nicolas Deschamps tipped in a Jake Gardiner point shot at the four minute mark, and Mike Kostka ended the extra man drought at 22 a minute and a half later. From then on, it was a game full of penalties, occasionally offsetting, and mixed with fights – Mark Fraser and Jesse Blacker both getting majors for Toronto. While being outshot for the second consecutive period, the Marlies still managed to extend the lead to 5-0.
Third didn’t have the goal scoring of the other two periods, but the Marlies kept a solid pace and equaled possession. Much like the first two periods, there was a lot of chippy play, with a Leo Komarov hit that turned into a fight being the exclamation point of it late in the game. With the powerplay list the size of a small book, the two teams played out the clock and the Marlies went home with the shutout victory.
- Kenny Ryan came in for an injured Jerry D’Amigo tonight, and had a bigger impact in the first period than most of the team has had in their first three games. If he wants to stay on the roster, this is a good way to two it. Two goals and a fight isn’t something to scoff at.
- Keith Aucoin had three assists, and they were all primaries. This was the type of performance that was expected of him when the Leafs signed him to a two way deal, and it was a definite boost to the team’s play tonight. His ability to find the open man at this level is incredibly strong.
- Jussi Rynnas wasn’t overwhelmingly amazing tonight, but he was very good, and deserved his shutout. Around this time two years ago was when he went on a hot streak that made people think he may have been better than his teammate James Reimer. That turned out to not be the case, but it will be interesting to see if he can go on a streak like that again. Expect Mark Owuya in between the pipes tomorrow, though.
- If you need proof that the powerplay utilizes the point a lot, Mike Kostka and Jake Gardiner lead the team in shots with 4 a piece. The man advantage was still cold at 1 for 7, but at least a puck went in, which should given confidence moving forward. The penalty kill stayed strong at a perfect 7 for 7.
- After a suspiciously low amount of fights in the first few games, there were five tonight. On a team without set enforcers, that’s a lot of spilled emotions. Then again, they’re facing Hamilton. This happens, and will continue to happen at least ten more times this year.
- Ricoh Coliseum was nearly full again tonight, with 7618 in attendance. Part of it may be the lockout, part of it may be the playoff run, and part of it may be good marketing. Whatever it is, numbers are up compared to last season and it’ll be interesting to see how long it lasts.