With the NHL on its way back, bringing with it the regular talk of league parity, it’s incredible to see how the increased levels of competition have trickled down to the AHL levels.
Sure, it makes the season more fun… but it also must take its toll on the heart of a head coach.
The Marlies have been one of the league’s hottest teams since before Christmas. Their 7-1-1-1 record over the past ten is the second best in the league. Yet still the dogfight continues for the conference’s top spot. The Marlies are deadlocked with Charlotte at 47 points for the Western Conference poll position. The point differential from first to eighth is only seven.
Things don’t get much easier if you’re to look over the Eastern side. Syracuse has strung together seven wins over their past eight games. Their 53 points lead the AHL, and 0.736 win percentage have people guessing if this group can repeat what they did last season while residing in Norfolk (28 straight wins and the Calder Cup championship).
Although for guys like me it may be easy to get caught up in the numbers game, a good head coach will always tell you that the only game that matters is the next one. And one by one they work themselves through the schedule.
So in an attempt to follow that credo, here are my notes ahead of Sunday’s matinee game in St. John’s:
- Not originally on the schedule, Sunday’s 12:30 EST start time is a make-up date for last Friday’s game which had to be rescheduled due to inclement weather
- Toronto’s coming off a victory, defeating St. John’s 6-2 on Saturday evening
- The Marlies powerplay struck three times while the penalty kill contributed with a shorthanded tally as well
- With three points on Saturday (1g, 2a) Joe Colborne now has eight points in four games
- The IceCaps have now lost six of their last seven, registering two or fewer goals in five of those games
- St. John’s is 5-10 in the second game of a back-to-back scenario
Like Saturday’s game, Toronto residents can support the blue and white during this trip out east. Tune into the game starting at 12:30pm on RogersTV. If you’re anything like me (somewhat partial to the home town call) catch play-by-play man Jon Abbott on AHL Live as he brings you all the action from Mile One Centre.
I will do my best to bring you lineup news and notes as they become available (find me on twitter — @chansler) but I highly suggest you lend your follow to both Jon Abbott (@HockeyAbbs) and Marlies media relations coordinator Ian Meagher (@IanMeagher).