Toronto vs Hamilton - Jamie Devane

The Marlies continue their four game home stand on Saturday as they host the Chicago Wolves at Ricoh Coliseum as the AHL standings race continues.

It’s the first time the two clubs have met during the course of the 2012/13 campaign, but the significance at this point in time could not be higher. Sitting seventh and eighth in the conference standings, both clubs are focused on avoiding a bump out of the playoff bubble.

The Marlies have trended downwards since the reinstatement of NHL play, having promoted a combination of forwards and blueliners to the Maple Leafs. Although Nazem Kadri and Matt Frattin may have been pencilled into big league spots by many couch GMs, the additions of Mike Kostka, Mark Fraser and Korbinian Holzer have proved to be both instrumental in Leafs wins. The once sturdy Marlies defence corps have since been in a state of flux as the remaining rearguards adjust to added minutes and slightly difference roles.

Preparation. The message Dallas Eakins has preached since being named head coach of the Marlies. He is often heard reminding his players to make the best of their opportunities – whether it’s a scoring chance or a role on the powerplay.

As a team, the Marlies have the opportunity to make the best of a large amount of home dates through February and March to ‘make hay while the sun shines.’ Saturday could not be a better example of this.

Here are my notes ahead of the game:

  • Jesse Blacker has a goal and an assists over the last two games
  • Both Jesse Blacker and Jamie Devane registered firsts last game, Blacker’s first goal of the season and Devane’s first goal of his AHL career
  • Spencer Abbott has six points (3g, 3a) over the past nine games adding to an already impressive season for the rookie
  • Ryan Hamilton marked his return to the Marlies with a goal on Wednesday, making for 14 goals in his last 20 games played
  • Chicago has won four of their last five, while Toronto has lost four of their last five
  • The Wolves are 8-2-0 against the North Division
  • Chicago’s Eric Kattelus is on a four game point streak (2g, 2a)
  • Long time Wolves forward Darren Haydar notched a hat-trick on Tuesday
  • Netminder Matt Climie has collected a win in each of his last five starts, earning two shutouts and allowing more than one goal against only once

There are plenty options to tune into Saturday’s game. The oft-funny but always informative Jon Abbott and Bob McGill can be heard over several platforms. For your viewing pleasure, you can catch all the action on Rogers TV starting at 3pm. If radio is more your style, tune into TSN 1050. Internet streaming is also an option, AHL Live has covered the bases there. The audio feed is always free, the video costs only a few dollars.

For lineup news and notes ahead of today’s game, your best bet is to follow Jon Abbott (@HockeyAbbs) on twitter.

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