Development for the Toronto Maple Leafs has been strong thanks to the Toronto Marlies. We check-in on how the team is doing in the AHL.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are in the middle of a playoff push and currently sitting in a position to make the postseason. The same isn’t true for their AHL farm team, the Toronto Marlies.
This hasn’t been the best year for Toronto’s minors. We assess the Marlies’ chances to turn this around and qualify for the postseason.
Much like the Leafs, the Marlies keep finding new ways to stumble. This past Wednesday they had the opportunity to make gains in their playoff pursuit by facing off against a goaltender making his AHL debut for the Belleville Senators. Instead of welcoming the keeper to the league by blasting pucks past him, they allowed the goalie to earn the win.
Toronto Marlies Playoff chances
The backstop’s story is a good one. Quebec born Alex Dubeau went undrafted while he was playing with the Shawinigan Cataractes and Moncton Wildcats in the QMJHL. This led him to be recruited to play and attend school at the University of New Brunswick. His time there went well enough to help him turn pro and play in the ECHL. Dubeau’s biggest career opportunity came against the Marlies and he wasn’t going to waste it.
Since dropping that game, the Marlies split a back-to-back against the Syracuse Crunch. At this time of year, they can’t afford to be missing out on collecting points.
In order to qualify for the Calder Cup Playoffs, AHL clubs need to finish in the top four of their respective division. Toronto is in the North Division currently seated in the seventh position. Not only are they seven points away from earning their way to the postseason tournament but they’d also have to leapfrog three teams to get in. While possible, chances aren’t good it happens.
Marlies coach Greg Moore hasn’t been overly impressed with the compete level of his players facing this daunting challenge. He’s felt that his club hasn’t been playing full games to their capacity. “The players should be really down on themselves,” Moore said when speaking to the media following Wednesday’s loss.
The Marlies’ position in the standings is extremely disappointing. It’s made worse by knowing that the team was leading their division when their head coach Sheldon Keefe was plucked in the middle of his fifth year there. When he left to join the Maple Leafs, Moore wasn’t able to maintain his momentum.
The group has had strong players dress all season but somehow haven’t been able to get themselves on the right side of the scoresheet often enough. The blame shouldn’t fall on Moore. The big club has had many injuries which meant that the Marlies needed to send their talent down the road. They even lost Jeremy Bracco for weeks in what some consider a conspiracy.
The Marlies have ten games remaining this season, if they don’t manage to go on an incredible run it’ll be the last games they play until training camp.
To close out the year, the Marlies should be looking to give opportunities to players to shine. They must compete hard and try to enjoy the ride.