The Toronto Marlies were the clearly dominant team through the only two periods that mattered in this game, but that doesn’t mean that the Toronto Maple Leafs are the clearly dominant hockey club when stacked against the Montreal Canadiens.
This Hamilton Bulldogs team is really young. I saw five players for the Bulldogs play in the Canadian Hockey League at some point last year, including Patrick Holland, who was one of the Bulldogs’ better players. The Marlies who played the best in this game, Greg Scott, Mike Kostka and Kenny Ryan, are for the most part lifetime AHLers.
That said, the Leafs-Marlies got some inspiring performances tonight, particularly from Jake Gardiner, and one from Leo Komarov, that ought to make the future Leafs roster mostly interesting.
Kenny Ryan scored two goals in the first period, both of them set up for the most part by good bounces. Leo Komarov threw a blind pass to the front of the net, and I guess he was intending to hit Ryan’s stick with it, but the puck took a funny hop right over goalie Robert Mayer’s pad and onto Ryan’s stick. On the second, a Korbinian Holzer clearing attempt settled down perfectly for Keith Aucoin for an easy 2-on-1. Tell Holzer to make that chip shot 100 more times and he might not be able to do it again, but he did it on this night, intentionally or not, and that was the goal that chased Mayer and was probably the clincher.
Peter Delmas came in goal for Hamilton at that point and played better than Mayer. Not good enough to INSPIRE the Bulldogs to victory, but he took goals away from Joe Colborne and Greg Scott with desperation flashes, which is always fun. He was playing road hockey out there.
It’s good for the Marlies that their most notable defensive pairing were the offensive specialists: Jake Gardiner and Mike Kostka really work well together at the point, turning 5-on-5 situations into powerplays and turning powerplays into games of keep-away. However whatever curse has afflicted the Marlies powerplay manifested itself again tonight. Sure, the team got a powerplay goal, but didn’t get one on six powerplay attempts. They were also out-chanced at special teams by a very wide 14-6 margin.
I don’t know how the Bulldogs managed to get 14 chances on the powerplay and not score on any of them, but they managed. Jussi Rynnas was pretty good. He didn’t have to be perfect, but he was, and Greg Millen did make a good point late in the game about second chances and rebound control. Rynnas did not allow either and the Bulldogs failed to get their sticks on pucks in the crease before Rynnas could cover them or before Marlies sticks could knock them away.
Here are scoring chance charts. Even strength, special teams, overall, and broken down by result (whether a goal, save or missed shot). There’s also a chart of players for both teams and how each player contributed to the offence. Kadri took two of Toronto’s three chances in the third, and set up the other one, so his overall total is deceiving, as 75% of his offensive contribution came in garbage time.