TORONTO, ON – For the sixth time in seven seasons, the Toronto Marlies are heading to the second round of the playoffs. This is the seventh time they have made the second round in their history, and they won four of those series. Last season, they lost in the second round to the Syracuse Crunch, so the Marlies will be looking for payback.
This is only the sixth time the Syracuse Crunch have made the second round in their 24-year history. While the Marlies have only made the finals once, the Crunch have been there twice, including last season. Both times they made the finals were in the last five years, where they lost both times to the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Crunch will be looking for payback and to do this they need to go through Toronto.
Final Regular Season Records:
Toronto Marlies: 54-18-2-2, 112 pts (1st in North Division, 1st in Eastern Conference)
Syracuse Crunch: 46-22-3-5, 100 pts (2nd in North Division, 3rd in Eastern Conference)
North Division Semifinals Results:
Toronto Marlies: Eliminated Utica Comets, 3-2.
Syracuse Crunch: Eliminated Rochester Americans, 3-0.
Game 1 – Thursday, May 3 – Syracuse at TORONTO 7:00 pm ET
Game 2 – Saturday, May 5 – Syracuse at TORONTO 4:00 pm ET
Game 3 – Sunday, May 6 – Toronto at SYRACUSE 7:00 pm ET
Game 4 – Tuesday, May 8 – Toronto at SYRACUSE 7:00 pm ET
Game 5* – Saturday, May 12 – Syracuse at TORONTO 4:00 pm ET
Game 6* – Monday, May 14 – Toronto at SYRACUSE 7:00 pm ET
Game 7* – Wednesday, May 16 – Syracuse at TORONTO 7:00 pm ET
*=> If Necessary
Season Series Recap:
These two teams played each other eight times in the regular season, with the games split evenly in both cities. The Marlies came out ahead with a record of 5-2-1 on the series. The Marlies actually did better in Syracuse (3-1-0) than they did in Toronto (2-1-1), but had a winning record in both cities. The last time these two teams faced each other was February 28th, so they will not be very familiar with the current team lines for the opposition.
The Marlies are likely to play Garret Sparks for the series, as they did against Utica. However, they may also play Calvin Pickard for either game two or three. Pickard played the Crunch twice and won both games. As well, Sparks got pulled in game three after letting in three goals on seven shots. In the same game, Pickard only let in a single goal on twenty shots. Through the regular season, the Marlies played Sparks and Pickard for all but two of the games.
The Crunch did not have the same stability in net. They had a total of seven different goalies, with three being their main goalies. After starting the season with the Crunch, Louis Domingue was called up to the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he has spent most of the season. Connor Ingram and former Brampton Beast Eddie Pasquale have shared the starting duties when Domingue was in the NHL. Pasquale finished fourth in the league, while Ingram followed closely behind at eight. With four Top 10 goalies playing in this series, it should be an exciting round of playoff hockey.
How Toronto Marlies Win:
The Marlies need to learn from their games in Utica where they were outplayed at all levels. They need to remember to work as a team and to take the crowd out of the game early when they are in Syracuse. Now that Andreas Johnsson and Travis Dermott are back in the line-up, the Marlies appear to be firing on all cylinders. They need to keep the style of hockey from game five going into the series with the Crunch. They have the potential to take the series in four games.
How Syracuse Crunch Wins:
The Crunch are not a team to be pushed over as they finished 12 points behind first. They also beat the Rochester Americans in a three-game sweep in the first round. Matthew Peca was returned from Tampa Bay to start the playoffs. He earned a team-leading eight points (2g, 6a) in those three games. The Lightning are still in the NHL playoffs so the Crunch do not expect to get any more players sent down. They will have to then focus on helping their goalies to keep the Marlies’ league-leading offense at bay.
Follow @SinBinBeast on Twitter for live updates on the full Marlies vs Crunch playoff series.