Photo Credit: Christian Bonin/TSGPhoto.com
A new week, a new series. The Marlies, hot off the heels of a three-game sweep of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, will continue to hunt for blood against the Albany Devils. We broke down the series on the whole last night, but for now, let’s talk about the game ahead of them this evening.
Not a ton is known regarding tonight’s lineup just yet. Most notably, Andrew Campbell has been ruled out for the remainder of the series by the Marlies coaching staff, which should mean that his usual partner Rinat Valiev slots back into the lineup tonight. More alarmingly, William Nylander missed yesterday’s practice with an undisclosed ailment, as did Nikita Soshnikov. We’ll see if they draw in. Beyond that, not much change is expected from Game 3.
Projected Lines based on Utica Series. Subject to significant change.
|Left Wing||Centre||Right Wing|
|Blake Pietila||Joseph Blandisi||Mike Sislo|
|Ried Boucher||Jim O’Brien||Brian O’Neill|
|Matt Lorito||Pavel Zacha||Nick Lappin|
|Ben Thomson||Rod Pelley||Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond|
|Left Defence||Right Defence|
|Vojtech Mozik||Seth Helgeson|
|Dan Kelly||Damon Severson|
|Mark-Andre Gragnani||Reece Scarlett|
Albany will be looking to dial back the pace of this game, especially if they manage to get an early goal. I’d expect them to rely heavily on the Severson-Kelly pairing throughout. It’s also worth keeping in mind that Pietila and Letourneau-Leblond were additions in Game 4 and that Paul Thompson and Ryan Kujawinski typically take their spots. With that said, Pietila will almost assuredly play after a four-point performance, and I wouldn’t rule out Leblond sticking around to cause commotion.
The Marlies are going with Garret Sparks as their Game 1 starter. Sparks has just one game played against the Devils this year, where he stopped 28 of 31 shots. Sparks also has a perfect record in these playoffs, posting a 31-save shutout in Game 2 and fending off all 12 in relief of Antoine Bibeau in Toronto’s thrilling comeback win in Game 3.
Across the hall, Scott Wedgewood gets the nod. Wedgewood has been impressive in these playoffs, posting a 0.922 save percentage against Albany, but is just a 0.889 over two appearances against the Marlies this year.
What To Watch For
I’m genuinely interested to see how Sheldon Keefe deploys his team for this one. Toronto has usually had little issue adjusting to teams but has been continuously outshot and gradually shut down more and more by Albany all year. However, the allowance of this may have been by design. If you’re a team doing a victory lap around the league and you have a good idea that you’re going to face an opponent in a playoff series, why would you shift your game plan before you need to?
Whether that adjustment is a new breakout, more shots from the offside, or something else is anybody’s guess. But I’d imagine that these games won’t look that similar to the regular season ones.
Puck drop for this one is at 7:30 PM at Ricoh Coliseum.