Photo Credit: Pete Dougherty (Albany Times Union) / Twitter
After three opening games which left spectators a little confused, the Toronto Marlies appear to have gotten their creative juices flowing and are now just one win away from advancing to the AHL’s Eastern Conference Finals to take on one of Hershey or Wilkes-Barre. They still have their work cut out for them, though; that last win won’t come easy.
It would be hard to imagine that Toronto would change a heck of a lot going into today’s game. After all, they’ve outscored Albany 12-3 in the past six periods and outshot them in Game 5, which is a pretty rare occurrence in both the season and playoff series between these two teams. Granted, the coaching staff could be aware of something that others aren’t; but at the time of writing, it sounds like they’ll be going with effectively the same roster as Thursday night.
Jim O’Brien has been out for the bulk of the series, but that could change today. Devils coach Rick Kowalsky has him as a Game Time Decision, which matches his perspective on Mike Sislo. Pavel Zacha, who suffered an injury in Game 1 which the Devils are now claiming is lower-body (as opposed to a suspected concussion), won’t draw in today but could play in Game 7 if the Marlies can’t close the series out.
Despite giving up 10 goals in his last 5 periods and seeing his playoff save percentage tumble from 0.933 to 0.893 in the span of 100 minutes, the Devils will be going back to Scott Wedgewood for the 10th consecutive game in these playoffs. If nothing else, they’re giving him more developmental time, and it’s not like Yann Danis at his best is much better. With that said, he hasn’t gone cold for very long over the course of this season, so maybe they’re on to something in giving him another shot at retribution.
Across the ice, nothing has been confirmed yet, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Antoine Bibeau heads back into the crease. He’s done nothing to lose his spot since Game 2, especially when you consider how good he’s been against Albany all year. If Toronto can close this out, I’d expect them to go back to tandem rotations for Round 3, but he’s the perfect fit for this series until he proves otherwise.
What To Watch Out For
I’ve been giving Albany the benefit of the doubt for the most part, but after five games, it’s become just too hard to trust them. If Toronto goes up early enough, it’s very likely that one of their players will do something that will make people very angry. It’s almost as likely that a Marlies player will respond at some point with something not as blatant, but still a bit iffy.
Toronto has done a good job with not getting carried away in their responses in the past few games. Even when things got really, really rough and sketchy, they kept their eyes on the puck and focused on putting it in the back of the net. The easiest way to get the Devils to stop is to make sure that they have no hockey left to play. If Toronto wants to win, staying focused from minute 1 to minute 60 is key, and if they do that, it’s not unrealistic to think that they can close the series out today.
Puck drop is at 3 PM. Keep in mind that just about every method of transportation into the Exhibition Grounds has some sort of cancellation (the Gardiner is closed, the 509 and 511 have been made basically useless, etc) going for it right now, and that Toronto FC are playing next door in the evening. The GO Train or the 63 Ossington Bus are probably your best bets depending on where you’re coming from, even if you’re a driver.