With this year’s expectations given to the Toronto Maple Leafs leaning towards “do your best” rather than “bring us some rings”, the fanbase’s expectations have been placed on their AHL counterparts, the Marlies. You can’t blame the fans either; the team is loaded with young, NHL-quality players who are expected to be a big part of the future of the big club. In the meantime, they’re expected to be the present of the league below.
Of course, they’re a gigantic disappointment. Not only did they not go 76-0-0 this year, they’ve killed that dream in just four games. How do they sleep at night?
I’m kidding, of course. No team is expected to run the tables; I’m not sure if the Sochi Team Canada team could do that in this league, let alone a regular franchise. But tonight, the team suffered it’s first loss of the season to the Albany Devils.
It wasn’t a particularly poor game on Toronto’s part. If anything, it was one that could have gone either way. While the team would certainly like to have the shorthanded goal they gave up to Jim O’Brien in the second period, they did a pretty solid job in reversing the tide. While they didn’t respond with a goal on the powerplay, a loose puck opportunity was created in front of Yann Danis just a few minutes later. Matt Frattin got just enough of his stick on the puck to chop it in the air and into the open net to tie the game, and just a minute and change after that, Kasperi Kapanen gave Toronto the lead with an absolute rocket of a shot.
As it turned out, though, a bit of deja-vu was heading Toronto’s way. Late in the second, Viktor Loov went to the penalty box for holding, and the Devils set up. Marc-Andrew Gragnani found Mike Sislo, and much like yesterday, he blasted a one-timer into the back of the Toronto net to tie the game back up. Early in the third period, Blake Pietila put the Devils up with his first of the season, and the Marlies were never fully able to recover.
Looking to make a statement after falling out of the rotation yesterday, Matt Frattin was all over the ice. Placed on a line with William Nylander and Connor Brown and given plenty of powerplay minutes, the 27-year-old forward took 7 of Toronto’s 28 shots, including the game’s first goal. He threw the body a fair bit too, which is always entertaining; every so often, he’ll send a guy into a different time zone.
- Garret Sparks faced 31 shots and had 28 saves. Not a mindblowing performance, but solid enough. The first two goals were higher percentage opportunities.
- William Nylander remains the team’s stand-alone scoring leader, with five points through four games.
- Kasperi Kapanen’s goal was his first with the Marlies. He looked more comfortable today, and at times showed off some of his top-end skating ability.
- Casey Bailey made his Marlies debut. He had no points, no shots, and was a -1.
See You Next Time
The Marlies now head on the road for the first time this year, taking a weekend tour of scenic small-town New York State. Their next game is on Friday, against the Rochester Americans.
Photo Courtesy of Christian Bonin / TSGPhoto.com