(Image courtesy: Christian Bonin/TSGphoto.com)
By Avry Lewis-McDougall
Banged up, punched in the mouth but in control. That’s the Toronto Marlies in this series vs the Albany Devils. In this series both Stu Percy and new comer Andreas Johnson have gone down with injuries but they sit just one win of returning to an AHL conference final for the first time since the 2013-14 campaign.
I said before that the Devils would give the Marlies a challenge and that they have done, getting a split at Ricoh with things shifting back to Albany for Game 3 on Sunday and in their first game at home the Devils would get a massive 3-2 overtime win, while Toronto would lose Stu Percy for the remainder of this game as well as Game 4 after taking a hard cross check from Joseph Blandisi.
Newcomer to not just the Marlies but North American hockey, right winger Andreas Johnson in just his 2nd game with the Marlies after coming over from the Sweden would be forced to leave this one also after taking a dangerous blindside hit to the head from Dan Kelly.
The AHL would respond on Thursday before Game 4 by suspending Kelly for 10 games.
Toronto’s offense in Games 4 and Game 5 would come alive in 7-2 and 5-1 Marlies wins thanks to the youngins such as Sam and Connor Carrick, William Nylander and Nikita Shosnikov putting up points in New York state. In Game 4, four of the goals came via the powerplay which they had nine of as Marc Arcobello, Kasperi Kapanen, T.J. Brennan, and Brendan Leipsic would get on the scores sheet via the man advantage.
Scott Wedgewood who was a brick wall early in this series for Albany would be chased from his net in Game 4 after allowing 5 goals on 17 shots in two periods of work, while Yann Denis would let in two more.
In Game 4 it was Antoine Bibeau’s turn to be rock solid in net as he made 24 saves on 26 shots that came his way.
In the fifth game of this series the Marlies would storm out to a 3-0 lead first thanks to two powerplay goals from Connor Carrick and Connor Brown as well as a Shosnikov goal. Albany’s reply would only come via a lone Paul Thompson goal as it would be another tough night in net for Wedgewood.
Stats wise, Connor Carrick continues to lead the AHL in playoff scoring with 13 points and as a team they lead the AHL with 33 goals scored in the postseason. Not other club has yet crossed the 30 goal mark (Lake Erie is 2nd with 28 goals). On the road and at home, the Marlies powerplay is ranked 4th in the AHL, at 23.3% on the road and 27.3% at home.
Game 6 is back in Toronto at 3PM Eastern time on Saturday.