The Toronto Marlies played the final game of a twenty one day, eight game road trip in Hamilton on Friday night. Hamilton got the 6-3 win in a game that was closer than the score indicates. Below are five things that caught my eye:
1. Matt Frattin – This was Frattin’s first game of the season after returning from knee surgery. He didn’t waste any time getting his name on the score sheet potting his first goal less than 10 minutes into the first period. The goalie should have done better, but no one can question his release, which he showed off last season in the NHL. He then scored his second of the night tipping in a Nazem Kadri shot. Not bad for a guy playing his first game.
2. Spencer Abbott – This was the first game I’ve seen Abbott play this year. He was playing on a line with Leo Komarov and Keith Aucoin. Coming into the night he had five points in three games. He set up Jake Gardiner for an open net that he failed to convert on a beautiful back door pass in the first period, and he had an assist on Frattin’s first goal. He was effective using his speed for most of the night. Abbott was signed by Brian Burke after playing four years at the University of Maine. He is in his first pro season, but at the age of 24 and only 5’9”, the odds are stacked against him to make the NHL. He is only on a one year deal and could be a wild card in training camp if the NHL season ever does get going.
3. Frattin, Colborne, Kadri Line – I love the fact that Eakins had these three players together on one line. They are arguably the three top forward prospects in the organization and they are all expected to see time with the big club if there is an NHL season this year. They were dominant at times and were involved in all three Marlies goals. I will be interested to see if Eakins keeps this group together going forward.
4. Ben Scrivens – Something is definitely wrong with Ben Scrivens. He has not been very good this year and tonight was no different. He let in five goals on 29 shots and all of them were questionable. I have to wonder how much of an effect the dismissal of Francois Allaire has had on him. He was a disciple of Allaire and with new goalie coach Rick St. Croix in the mix; he might be struggling to adjust. If Brian Burke wasn’t looking for a goalie before the lockout, I think he is definitely looking for one now after watching Scrivens struggle through the first part of the AHL season.
5. Not having an ECHL affiliate is hurting development – The lockout combined with the fact that the Maple Leafs do not have an ECHL affiliate this year is hurting the development of some players. The Maple Leafs have three legitimate goalie prospects and they are all currently with the Marlies. This means that one of them is in the press box every night. If they had an ECHL affiliate one of them could be starting regularly like Mark Owuya did last year with Reading. Brad Ross is another player that has been negatively affected. Ross was a second round pick in 2010 and is in his first pro season. To date he has only played in three games, which is the least out of all Marlies skaters. Ross needs to play. Sitting in the stands every night isn’t going to help him develop. The Marlies had a total of seven healthy scratches on the night.
One final note, how can I write a report on this game without mentioning Dallas Eakins’ mustache It is absolutely epic, definitely reminiscent of a seventies porn star. Well done sir.
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