The Toronto Marlies’ season came to an abrupt halt last week. On April 14th, AHL Communications (@AHLPR on Twitter) announced that three Marlies games were to be postponed due to ‘league COVID-19 protocols affecting the Toronto Marlies’.
Schedule changes: The @TorontoMarlies' games against Laval on Apr. 15 and Apr. 18 and against Belleville on Apr. 21 have been postponed. Makeup information is TBD.
— AHL Communications (@AHLPR) April 14, 2021
As seen above, the first set of postponed games are as follows—Thursday April 15 vs. the Laval Rocket; Sunday April 18 vs. the Laval Rocket; and Wednesday April 21st vs. the Belleville Senators.
On April 20th, AHL Communications announced the postponement of another trio of Marlies games. This news includes games originally scheduled for Friday April 23rd, Saturday April 24th, and Wednesday April 28th. All against the Belleville Senators.
What Do We Know?
Very little information regarding next steps has been provided by the American Hockey League at this point. For obvious reasons, the league seems to be re-assessing the situation on a weekly basis.
The Marlies’ next game is scheduled for Sunday May 2nd against, you guessed it, the Belleville Senators.
What we do know is this. The Marlies currently sit third in their division and — should they take place — look to be a lock to make the playoffs despite having a record under .500. This is mostly because they’re in the Canadian Division, which only has five teams. Four out of five teams make it, so their odds were always pretty good to begin with.
The Marlies have 14 games remaining, including the six that were postponed. These games are likely to be made up.
Four of those games are against the division-leading Laval Rocket, but even a 4-0 showing would do very little to help the Marlies rise to the top of the standings. Laval has a 16-point lead on the second-place Manitoba Moose—a team the Marlies actually have a shot at catching.
Laval Rocket vs Montreal Canadiens… please make that happen https://t.co/BbS4aK9G62
— Grant 🌊 (@GGProCH) April 18, 2021
What Is The Marlies’ Biggest On-Ice Obstacle Going Forward?
Their biggest on-ice obstacle will be finding consistency in net. Marlies’ starters have collectively posted an abysmal 3.31 goals-against average to go along with an .880 save-percentage across 22 games this year. Ouch.
Offensive depth doesn’t appear to be an issue, even with players like Nick Robertson and Adam Brooks missing time to play with the Maple Leafs. The Marlies have especially enjoyed consistent production from players like Kenny Agostino, Tyler Gaudet, and Kalle Kossila.
The defence has been somewhat inconsistent but relatively sound all things considered, with Timothy Liljegren and Calle Rosen leading the pack. Mac Hollowell has also looked solid. Kristians Rubins, Teemu Kivihalme, and Joseph Duszak have shown positive improvements as well.
Additionally, reinforcements are on the way. The Leafs added a pair of forwards in Antti Suomela and Stefan Noesen at the trade deadline. Suomela has 12 goals in 35 points in 71 career AHL games, and Noesen has 39 goals and 91 points in 150 career AHL games.
Leafs prospect Mikko Kokkonen is also set to join the team on a tryout contract, so there could be some blue line help coming as well.
How Will This Season End?
It’s hard to predict how the Marlies’ season will end. A surprise playoff run would be nice, should there be a postseason. At this point, just getting back onto the ice at all would be an achievement in its own right.
Wishing everyone in the Toronto Marlies organization the best. https://t.co/FV6AAoDulU
— Lukas Weese (@Weesesports) April 14, 2021