At what point of the season does it become acceptable to start scoreboard watching? Is there an actual threshold we cross in which it’s alright to start calculating the number of games left and minimal amount of wins needed to make it into the post season?
The Marlies, who lead the Western Conference on New Year’s Eve, now find themselves ten points back of first and relegated to sixth in the West and on the unfavourable end of a three game losing streak. If the season ended today, Toronto would travel to Abbotsford to face their divisional foe in the playoff’s first round. The Marlies would not have home ice advantage.
While the Marlies look up at Abbotsford who sit in the division’s top spot with 53 points, they are also now forced to looks over their shoulder at rival Rochester, whose win against the Marlies on Friday extended the team’s win streak to four. The Amerks now rank only one point behind Toronto.
A hope for a win during Saturday’s home again – the team’s first since the All Star break – comes with even more urgency. Forty-one games have been played, meaning only 35 remain. Of those remaining games only three are against the Hamilton Bulldogs, Saturday’s opponent. A team which throughout the course of the season have been the source of a fair number of points in the standings. Toronto has earned 12 of a possible 18 points.
Here are my notes ahead of the game:
- After scoring a goal and sustaining a hard hit on January 13th, Paul Ranger is still yet to return to active duty having now missed five games
- Toronto has managed only five goals over the past three games
- The Marlies have won only a single game over their past six, the first time since December 17th-31st 2011
- After helping the Marlies collect at least a point in each of his first seven starts, Jussi Rynnas has won only a single game over six appearances in 2013
- The AHL’s last place Bulldogs have found only one win over their past seven, but have picked up points in two more of those
- Despite his team’s struggles, goaltender Cedrick Desjardins suffered his first regulation loss in four starts on Friday as Hamilton lost at home to Grand Rapids
Although I would definitely suggest you come down to Ricoh Coliseum for the game, if you are unable to, you can catch all the action in high definition on Rogers TV. Jon Abbott and Bob McGill will also have all the action for you on TSN 1050 as the radio station will carry both the Leafs and Marlies games on Saturday. And remember, if all else fails, there’s always AHL Live – the spot where the audio feed is always free and the video costs only a few dollars.
As for me, you can find everything I know on twitter (@chansler) and I promise to bring you lineup news and notes as it becomes available throughout the day.