Photo Credit: Christian Bonin/TSGPhoto.com
The Toronto Maple Leafs’ season is over, and with it goes the rotation of first looks for players who started their season at Ricoh Coliseum. The group has been sent back, the roster has ballooned to a whopping 47 players, and the team set its sight on rebuilding chemistry before the start of the Calder Cup Playoffs. Their first crack at it wasn’t overly successful, though, as they fell 3-2 to the Hartford Wolfpack on a sunny but chilly Wednesday morning.
Toronto actually started off this game with a very early lead, as Connor Carrick entered the offensive zone with the puck, split the defencemen, and while he lost the puck, it found its way to surname-sharer but not relative Sam Carrick who buried his sixteenth goal of the year. But Hartford pressed extremely hard, outshooting the Marlies 15-6 over the course of the period and eventually beating Antoine Bibeau via a Nicklas Jensen shot in the slot with five minutes to go.
The bad news continued in the second period, which saw Chad Nehring put his team up after settling down a cross-crease pass and tucking it into Bibeau’s five-hole. The situation was made even worse when an attempt at a clear-out by TJ Brennan along the defensive zone boards bounced off of Brendan Leipsic’s stick and directly to Luke Adam, who made no mistake.
After Jayson Megna had his attempt to make it 4-1 on a penalty shot denied, the Marlies made it a little interesting. This time, Connor Carrick finally got the goal he was looking for, spurning TJ Brennan’s call for a one-timer to float a wrister past Magnus Hellberg to make it 3-2 instead. This gave Toronto 24 minutes to come up with the game-tying goal, but even as they outshot Hartford 14-5 in the final frame, they couldn’t so much as buy another one.
Toronto’s lineup today was obscenely stacked. So much so that names like Matt Frattin, Kasperi Kapanen, and Garret Sparks were healthy scratches. So much so that Andrew Campbell and Josh Leivo were on the IR. So much so that despite all this, the Marlies had just three skaters who didn’t play for the Lefas this year on the ice.
Those three? Justin Holl, who has been a pleasant surprise since showing up as a maybe at training camp, Andrew Nielsen, who just joined the team from junior, and Colin Smith, who was a trade deadline acquisition. You’re basically watching a late season Leafs game for $15, which is absurd.
These players obviously still need time to gel again, though; other than assist by Mark Arcobello, there wasn’t a lot of scoresheet impact from any of the big guns. They’ll get two more cracks before the regular season is done, taking on the Rochester Americans on Friday and Sunday.
With the loss, the Marlies record now stands at 52-16-5-1. The defeat snaps an eight-game point streak and means that the team can no longer have the most wins in a 76-game season. Their points percentage slips to 0.743 and their goal differential slips to +99. Will they get those back up to 0.750 and +100 before the season is done? Stay tuned to find out!
BTW: Thanks, Sam.