When last we met it was the Calder Cup Playoffs and these guys were white hot. The Toronto Marlies swept the Milwaukee Admirals out of the playoffs and it was all rather deflating. This could be viewed as a quasi-revenge game but I feel as if that match up was played out on opening night when the Admirals put five goals past Drew MacIntyre – who was really the monster that stopped anything and everything the Ads threw his way.
The Marlies are having a hard go of things this season. They have a record of 10-15-3-0 (23 points) which has them a leg up on the Rochester Americans in the North Standings and twelfth in the Western Conference.
While the record isn’t great it certainly is something that can be turned around. That said, it is going to take some serious work. The Marlies goal differential this season is alarmingly bad: -25 goals (57 goals forced, 82 goals allowed). When they lose they seem to lose big time. Example. Last night the Marlies lost a road game to the Grand Rapids Griffins by a final score of 7-1.
With such a wide goal differential you might think the goaltending is a major talking point. The truth is that things in net are fine. Christopher Gibson and Antoine Bibeau have been grinding away and doing quite well. Gibson has a 2.63 goals against average and a 0.911 save percentage. Bibeau has a 2.73 goals against average and a 0.915 save percentage.
The struggle lies with the Marlies offense. The Admirals have played one less game this season than the Marlies but have managed to score 17 goals more than Toronto.
Connor Brown is the go-to guy for the Marlies on offense and leads the team, as a rookie, with 22 points (8 goals, 14 assists) in 28 games. The next closest on the team is Spencer Abbott with 14 points (5 goals, 9 assists) in 24 games.
The Marlies are twenty-seventh in the AHL with a 12.4 conversion rate on the power-play. They also have the twenty-seventh rated penalty kill with a 79.1 success rate.
On paper, this match up is pretty close to what happened with yesterday’s game. Two teams with some hit and miss form looking to find a groove and get on a roll. The Admirals win vaulted them from fourth place to second place last night in the Midwest Divisonal standings with all teams not named the Rockford IceHogs tied at 31 points. It’s getting a bit wild ahead of the Christmas break. Both the Admirals and Marlies want to end on a high note.
Expectations for this afternoon’s game? Should the Admirals rotate in Magnus Hellberg on the back half of a two-in-two? What, if any, would you change to the Admirals lineup right now?