Photo Credit: Christian Bonin/TSGPhoto.com
The Toronto Marlies haven’t really had much time this year to be the team in trouble, but here we are. Just like in the regular season, the Albany Devils snapped Toronto’s 3-0 playoff winning streak on Wednesday night. In the regular season version of this, Toronto got their 7th win of the year before their 4th loss, and that 7th win came from Albany. The problem, though, was that the 7th win came at Game 10.
I don’t know if people are ready for a seven-game series. Alas, hockey doesn’t often repeat itself, so lets lot get too predictive. Tonight, the two sides face off for Game 2, which could create relief for or place immense pressure on the blue and white. Let’s take a look at what’s ahead:
Toronto had some trouble beating Scott Wedgewood in Game 1, but it looks like they’ll be getting some high-powered enforcements. Nikita Soshnikov and William Nylander have both been confirmed to return to the lineup; with no word as to who draws out to make up for the additions, though Tobias Lindberg seems likely to be one of the odd men out.
The Marlies will also likely be hoping for Brandon Leipsic and Kasperi Kapanen to get some post-dated rewards tonight; the two were excellent in the series opener but couldn’t get the puck luck to land in their favour.
While the Marlies gain their teenage superstar, Albany might go without one. Pavel Zacha took a high hit from Connor Carrick late in the third period and is going to miss tonight’s game, if not more of them down the line. Obviously, the Devils organization won’t want one of their top prospects to risk playing through a concussion, so they’ll be taking plenty of precaution with this one. Jim O’Brien is also expected to be out of the lineup.
Garret Sparks, the second goal notwithstanding, had a good game on Wednesday. But the Marlies want to make sure both of their young goalies get every opportunity they can get, so Antoine Bibeau will return to his spot between the pipes tonight. Bibeau struggled in Game 3 against Bridgeport but has a 0.961 save percentage against Albany this season.
Scott Wedgewood has played in every playoff game for the Devils so far, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him back in this one. After all, most teams love to ride the hot hand and Wedgewood is running about 35 save percentage points above his career average to date.
What To Watch For
Toronto struggled a lot with connecting passes and generally holding onto the puck on Wednesday, something that may have been a self-fulfilling prophecy later in Game 1 as players got less confident. Soshnikov and Nylander should shake that up a bit; not only are they elite puck handlers and protectors, but they’re also self-confident enough to not get shaken. Whether or not that will be enough remains to be seen, but there’s only one way to find out, no?
Puck drop is at 7:30 PM.