Marlies Weekly: A period to forget…

Photo credit:Steven Ellis/Daily Faceoff
Bennett Jull
6 months ago
The last two weeks have been less than stellar for the Toronto Marlies. While there are a few notable things that have occurred in terms of call-ups, announcements, and some solid production, the results have been bad.. really bad. The Marlies have lost seven games in a row.
In this stretch they came up short three times against Belleville, twice against Cleveland, and most recently in back-to-back games against Syracuse. Of the seven games, two of them went to overtime, so the Marlies have picked up two of a possible 14 points. Rather than go game by game, I’ll touch on a couple of main reasons why they’ve struggled, and offer some optimism going forward.
The Marlies have won 13 games this season. In those 13 wins, they’ve scored more than three goals on 11 occasions and scored three goals twice. The recipe seems simple; score 4 or more, and they are very likely to win. During this losing streak, they haven’t managed to find the back of the net more than three times in any game. The offence has dried up, and that needs to change.
Joseph Blandisi and Kiefer Bellows have led the way during this slump, each recording 4 goals and 2 assists over the 7 game stretch. Both players are just below a point-per-game for the season, and they have been pretty consistent when suiting up. Blandisi in particular has had 14 points over his last 12 games while logging penalty kill and powerplay minutes. He continues to provide steady leadership and moves the needle on most nights.
In addition to the offence struggling, Dennis Hildeby’s call-up to the Maple Leafs came at an inopportune time for the Marlies. Some good news though, the Marlies will have him back for their upcoming game this Friday, as he was sent down yesterday.
In the defence of the Marlies, the teams they’ve dropped points to are no slouches. The top three teams in the North Division are Cleveland, Syracuse, and Belleville. Certainly, their results haven’t been good enough, but at least they are dropping points to teams at the top of the division.
In more positive news, the AHL announced its All-Stars for this season, and both Dennis Hildeby and Alex Steeves got the call. Steeves rattled off an insane 16-game point streak and is over a point-per-game, while Hildeby’s numbers this year are right near the top amongst goaltenders league-wide. Both players deserve the call, and both will be in San Jose on February 4th and 5th.
As we look ahead to the Marlies’ next couple of games, it would certainly be a great time to string together a couple of wins. The Marlies have a home and home with Belleville tomorrow (Friday) and Sunday. If the Marlies were to win both games, they would be dead even on points with Belleville. Dennis Hildeby will be between the pipes on Friday, and I have a sneaky suspicion they end the slide.
Congratulations are in order for Martin Jones who has stepped in admirably for the Maple Leafs. He was recently named Second Star of the Week in the NHL for his play during Toronto’s California swing and followed that up with another assured performance at home on Tuesday. It cannot be overstated how imperative his play has been. With Woll injured and Samsonov struggling, Jones has not only stepped in but played extremely well.
Pontus Holmberg and Nick Robertson both scored the other night, while Simon Benoit recorded his first point with the Leafs. Robertson found himself in the press box recently, and while he has shown he can play day-in day-out in the NHL, there is still another gear for him to get to. Holmberg has looked tidy in the Leaf’s bottom six and scored a great one-handed goal. I am pretty confident that we will see him become a staple in the Maple Leafs lineup at some point.
Go Leafs Go tonight, and let’s hope the Marlies can slump their streak tomorrow!

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