Even though the Toronto Marlies kicked off their two-game series against the Cleveland Monsters with a 2-0 shutout on Saturday afternoon, there is always room for improvements. Saturday marked the first time that the two teams faced off against each other so far this season and they will only be waiting a day before they face off again on Sunday.
Although the Cleveland Monsters were shut out against the Marlies, the score does not tell the full story of the essence of Saturday’s game. The Monsters outplayed the Marlies for the majority of the game, especially during the second period and if the Marlies want to win in Sunday’s matinee when they meet again, there will be some things to fix before they square off in the rematch with Toronto.
The first period of the game went scoreless, but was full of chances for both sides. The Marlies started off the period outshooting the Monsters by a margin of 6-2, but they were not able to keep the momentum going. The Monsters starting to skate faster and play a more aggressive, physical game.
They ended the period with nine shots to the Marlies seven. While entering the danger zone, the Marlies were outmuscled by the Monsters defenders for the most part and striped off the puck before they could get a shot on net. Trying to get in front of the goaltender to try and score did not work out for the Marlies one bit in the first period.
All seven of the Marlies shots were taken outside of the slot and closer to the blue line. In the second period, Darren Archibald eventually was able to get around the Monsters defence and score a goal from in front of the net, but that was one of the only chances that the Marlies had from up close. The rest of the second and third period followed pretty much the same pattern.
The Marlies were given almost no chances to get a shot on net from in front of Veini Vehviläinen. Toronto’s second goal of the game was scored by Timothy Liljegren as he unleashed a Shea Weber-esque one-timer to double the Marlies lead from the blue line.
Overall, trying to get to the slot to shoot did not work for the team early on in the game. For tomorrow’s game, they need to try and put more players in front of the Monsters goaltender while the Marlies work to shoot pucks on net from farther out. That was how they were able to record shots early on and instead of trying to outmuscle Cleveland to get a rushing opportunity in front of the net, they should focus on getting players to convert on rebounds from shots taken from far out or score on tip-ins.
Although the Marlies won the game, they were outplayed by the Monsters for the most part. During the second period especially, Cleveland was far more aggressive than Toronto and were hard on the forecheck as well. The Monsters were able to continuously find holes in the Marlies defence to create quality chances.
The reason why Cleveland unable to score in the second period was due solely to the great performance of Kasimir Kaskisuo. The Monsters were easily able to find open lanes in front of the Marlies net and put up quality chances to score, but Kaskisuo was a brick wall for the home team. On another night, the score would likely have been much higher for the Cleveland Monsters.
Making sure Toronto gets the puck out of their zone quickly is essential as the Monsters will pounce if they hold the puck for a second too long. What was another common occurrence in the game was whenever a Marlies player had the puck in their own zone, they would be met with a very aggressive Monsters forward that was relentless in trying to take the puck away and would pressure the Marlies player to make a quick pass. This usually resulted in a loss of possession for Toronto as the blazing fast Monsters kept on intercepting passes and winning battles along the boards to get the puck back.
The Marlies have to match the physicality and aggressiveness that Cleveland played with in order to keep them at bay. The Monsters relentlessness seemed to tire out Toronto which resulted in them turning over the puck time and time again. By playing with the same level of relentlessness as the Monsters, the Marlies will not get trampled in their own zone as much and will likely see an increase in scoring chances for themselves too.
He may not have had any points in his team’s loss to the Marlies, but Kole Sherwood was a machine on the ice tonight. His speed was put on display more so than anything else. He entered the Marlies zone time after time, creating great scoring chances for his side.
Sherwood played a great defensive game as well as putting pressure forechecking the Marlies in their own zone. He finished the game with four shots on net and made some quality passes in Saturday’s contest which resulted in numerous shot assists. He was strong in his battles around the boards and put pressure on the Marlies in their own zone, resulting in puck turnovers.
Making sure that Sherwood is not able to play the game that he wants to play is important as he was arguably the best player on the ice on Saturday and will be looking for revenge on Sunday.
The Monsters kept on winning puck battles along the boards and using their sticks, speed and physicality to take the puck away from the Marlies and get quality shots on net. Regardless of the final result, Toronto has to fix these issues and come back to Sunday’s game far more aggressive and must play tighter on defence as well. Cleveland kept finding their way past Marlies defenders and were able to win puck battles around the net in order to create dangerous scoring chances.