I have always found interest in the ebbs and flows of a season. The way the same group of 20 men can climb to such highs and no sooner be forced to face what at times seems to be a complete turn of luck.

Even more intriguing than the ritualistic ups and downs are the nuances of the game completely out of the control of those who make up the team.

Miles traveled, back heavy schedules, hyperactive three-in-three weekends and long rest periods all add to the drama of a season. The 76 game outline provided to a team long before training camp gets underway may not write the book on how the season will end, but it certainly outlines a few of the chapters. Most interesting are the mini tournaments that come around.

To kick off the 2011/12 campaign, the Marlies faced the Lake Erie Monsters five times in three weeks. The playoff drive featured four meetings in one month against Grand Rapids, including three straight. Toronto’s collecting a perfect eight of eight possible points helped ensure they made the post-season, and the Griffins did not.

As the calendar now flips into December upon us comes a Rochester mini-series. Three meetings in four games for Toronto keeps any lagging wounds from last weekend open and easily recalled. The Marlies happily took both wins from the Americans, two of three straight for the Toronto team. An as Rochester returns to town, fresh off a Friday night win, repayment for last weekend’s lost opportunity will certainly be forefront in their mind.

Here are my notes ahead of the game:

  • Scoring in bunches seems to be all the rage as top talents Matt Frattin, Nazem Kadri and Jake Gardiner each had two-goal games last weekend
  • Spencer Abbott’s three assists on Sunday – and nine points in six games – has caught the attention of his coaching staff and looks penciled into Saturday’s lineup
  • Get this stat – the Marlies have scored on the powerplay in each of their 12 wins, but only once in their nine losses (special teams, special teams, special teams)
  • Mark Fraser is expected to return to action after sitting last weekend out with a minor bang-up
  • Rookie netminder Connor Knapp collected his first win of the season on Friday for Rochester
  • The Americans have only two victories over their past seven games and are yet to defeat Toronto in three meetings thus far this season
  • Cody Hodgson continues to edge closer to a return to the lineup, although it is unsure if he will be ready for Saturday’s game

Now are you ready for all of the fun stuff? Buckle your seat belts, this one is a doozie. Catch all of the action starting at 7:00pm on Sportsnet One as Joe Bowen, Greg Millen and Paul Hendrick guide you through the broadcast. I’ve heard that resident chimp (ask him about it) Jeff Marek will be manning the desk during intermissions. If you’re in your car, or have a radio receiver setup anything like my parents had growing up, tune your dial to TSN 1050 and catch the call from Marlies regulars Jon Abbott and Bob McGill. If internet’s more your thing, don’t worry we’re not leaving you out. Abbott and McGill can be found on AHL Live where the audio feed is always free and video costs only a couple dollars.

As a weekend heads up, Sunday’s going to be the annual Teddy Bear toss game. So get your teddies ready – you might want to consider safety gear for the flight over the glass.

As always, find me on twitter (@chansler) for lineup news and notes as they become available.

EXPECTED MARLIES LINEUP

IN GOAL: #30 Ben Scrivens

FOWARD LINES
Ross – Kadri – Frattin
Hamilton – Aucoin – Abbott
Deschamps – Colborne – Ashton
D’Amigo – Acton – Scott

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Gardiner – Kostka
Fraser – Holzer
Ranger – Gysbers

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