The Toronto Marlies finished off a three game weekend set with a 5-4 win against the Lake Erie Monsters (Colorado Avalanche). Given the situation and the early start, it was a pretty sloppy game, but the Marlies did well to get the two points. Here are five things that caught my eye in the game:
1. Paul Ranger/Korbinian Holzer – Ranger seems to have surpassed Mark Fraser on the depth chart and is now cemented as Holzer’s partner on the shutdown defense pairing. Holzer almost certainly will be with the Maple Leafs if there is an NHL season and judging by Ranger’s quality of play thus far, he is likely to get a long look with the big club. The game just looks real easy for this pair in their own end and I am very interested to see what they can do in the NHL. Dave Poulin (Maple Leafs Vice President of Hockey Operations) expressed on the broadcast that he thinks Ranger could be a shutdown defenseman given his size, mobility and most of all his high hockey IQ.
2. Brad Ross – Ross is probably the Marlies player that has been affected the most by the lockout. With the number of players being carried by the Marlies, Ross has been relegated to the stands on most nights in his first pro season. This was my first chance to see him with the Marlies and he impressed. Although Ross put up good offensive numbers in the WHL, he projects as an agitator (see Steve Ott) at the NHL level and he showed why in this game. He had a spirited fight in the first period coming to the defense of Nazem Kadri and he did a nice job going hard to the net on Jake Gardiner’s second period goal. What he needs most right now is consistent playing time at the AHL level.
3. Nazem Kadri – Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad when it comes to a player like Kadri. He is a risk-reward player and he made a high risk pass late in the first period on the power play that got intercepted, leading to a two on one and the Monsters first goal. Clearly he needs to be smarter with his decision making, but given his style of play he is going to make mistakes like this. I think Dallas Eakins realizes this; he had him right back out there to start the second period on the same power play. I’m just not sure how the rest of the organization feels about it.
4. Spencer Abbott – Abbott is another guy that has been hurt by the NHL lockout. This was only is sixth game of the season, but he is now up to nine points. He had three assists in the game and continues to show off his vision and play making skills. He reminds me a lot of Kyle Wellwood. Abbott likely won’t get a shot with the Maple Leafs as he is 24 years old and undersized, but it will be interesting to see what he can do if he gets regular minutes in the AHL. All he needs to do is look down the bench at Keith Aucoin to see how he can carve out a long pro career.
5. Joe Colborne –I’ve said a number of times that Colborne needs to have more of a net presence if he wants to make it to the next level and I saw a tweet by Gus Katsaros (McKeen’s Hockey Pro Scouting Coordinator) Sunday morning that echoed this sentiment. I was looking forward to tracking this in Sunday’s game, but Colborne was a healthy scratch. Given that this was the Marlies third game in three nights, Dallas Eakins made a number of changes to get fresh legs into the lineup, but it is telling that Colborne was one of the guys that was watching from the press box.
— Gus Katsaros (@KatsHockey) December 2, 2012
Follow Tony on Twitter: @TheDailyBites