Despite limited opportunities with the big club and few months spent with other teams, TJ Brennan has been one of the most consistent people in the Leafs organization over the past few years. He’s never vented his frustrations about not being called up, he’s been a role model in the community, and when he’s on the ice, he’s shown himself capable of lifting the Toronto Marlies up by several notches.
Even when it seems like he’s not having a standout night, he finds a way to surprise you. Tonight was a good example of that.
Since the start of the 2013/14 season, Brennan appears to have set a rule for himself; if he’s on the Marlies roster, he’ll be on the ice on game night. If he’s on the ice, he’ll probably take a shot on goal. Heading into tonight, he had shots on goal in 95 of his 97 regular season games with the Marlies, and in one of the games he went without one, he still mustered up an assist.
So, when the clock showed two minutes remaining in the third period and the stat sheet showed no shots on goal, it was definitely peculiar. It’s not like the team was starving for pucks to hit the net at this point either, having taken over thirty at this point, but they were certainly itching for a couple of them to hit the back of the net.
Toronto sent out six attackers, as they were down by a goal. Up front, Byron Froese, William Nylander, Connor Brown, and Richard Panik assembled themselves. Behind them, Brennan slotted with newcomer Justin Holl, and looked for an opportunity to attack.
Suddenly, an opening. Brennan went for his trademark windup and release, but it went just a little wide. Still no shots on goal, but much like the point shots we saw from Nicklas Lidstrom in Detroit, the puck bounced into the slot on the other side. Froese picked it up and potted his third goal in as many games, sending the team to overtime for the second consecutive game.
Toronto used a bevy of line combos in the 3-on-3 mini frame, and with less than two minutes on the clock, they were looking to bring out the big trio: Brennan, Brown, and Nylander. But an errant drop pass by the Albany Devils sent Brown and Brennan on a rush, while Kasperi Kapanen delayed his line change.
As it turns out, he’d never get the opportunity. Brown pumped the breaks at the left hashmarks, turned around and found Brennan. One heavy wrist flick later, and the puck was in the top right corner of the net, beating Yann Danis to win the game.
So, I guess, make that 96 of 98 games with a shot. As well, make that 3-0-0 for the Toronto Marlies.
- Antoine Bibeau looked pretty good in net today, stopping 19 of 21. The first Albany goal was a weird one that appeared to deflect off of Corey Tropp’s shoulder, so it’s hard to give him much flack for that. Beyond that, he looked quite agile and made some important saves.
- William Nylander continued his point getting ways, tying up the game in the late first period with a nice rebound from the left slot. That’s his second of the season, and he also picked up an assist on the Froese goal, moving him up to four points in three games.
- Byron Froese, Justin Holl, and Connor Brown all tied for most shots on the team with four.
- Kasperi Kapanen made his Marlies debut tonight but had no points and no shots. With that said, he showed impressive speed and skating ability, and likely just needs some time to get into a groove. Kapanen missed last week due to illness.
- The Marlies face the Devils again tomorrow at 3 PM.