The Toronto Marlies have completed their second sweep in the this years AHL playoffs en route to booking their ticket for the Conference Finals. While they are still awaiting their opponent for the third round, it would be hard not think the Toronto Marlies are the favourites from the Western Conference to advance to the Calder Cup Finals. With their second straight playoff sweep in the books, it begs the question of whether or not the Toronto Marlies are the best/hottest team in the AHL right now?
Heading into the Western Conference finals, one would think the Marlies already have a leg up on their competition after ending
their series in 4 games compared to the gruelling 7 games their opponent has just played. If the Marlies can jump out to an early series lead the series could be over before it truly begins.
After sweeping both the Milwaukee Admirals and Chicago Wolves, the Toronto Marlies are undefeated in this years AHL playoffs. Being undefeated in the post season is an amazing feat in itself, however they have yet to face any real challenge in this post season which could hurt them in either of the next two rounds. When you really look at the Marlies playoff run you realize a lot of things have been going “right” for the Marlies this postseason.
Drew MacIntyre has been out of this world good for the Marlies, players have gotten hot at the right time and the bounces have been bouncing their way. Their hard work and luck has taken them two rounds, however one might think it will run out at some point. Of the 7 games the Marlies have played in the post season, many of them could have gone either way. While the scoreboard says one thing, the play on the ice tells a different story.
The Marlies have not been performing at a rate much higher than their regular season. Sure they’ve appeared dominate but their top players haven’t been carrying the load for them, which has forced other player to chip in to help them win. The Marlies right now are skating by at a slightly higher rate then they did in the regular season which has been good enough to win. The only difference is the crazy .949 save percentage of Drew MacIntyre and increased contribution from the likes of Sam Carrick and Greg McKegg‘s shooting average of 27.3%.
By making the AHL post season the Toronto Marlies have already proved they are one of the top teams in the American Hockey league. Since the puck dropped on the post season the Marlies have almost been a different team all around, which is great and necessary to win. However, can this strong play last over the conference finals? One would have to think that McKegg’s shooting percentage will drop along with MacIntyre’s almost criminal save percentage. Can the veteran performance of Jerry D’Amigo last when the rest of the team comes back to earth?
Who knows, maybe the Marlies won’t sit back, relax and think they’re unbeatable as continue performing at their current level. Maybe MacIntyre continue to post shutouts every other night and the Marlies continue to get that all around production they’ve gotten in the post season.
Next round will prove to be the Marlies toughest test regardless of who comes out on top. Either they face the Texas Rangers and the best AHL team during the regular season or the 2012-2013 Calder Cup Champions in the Grand Rapids Griffins. Both teams have a roster that can match and beat the Marlies and with the Griffins playoff experience it could make for a very long and tough series.
Right now the Toronto Marlies have ridden the hot play of Drew MacIntyre en route to becoming the hottest team in the AHL and it’s been a fun two rounds. What Marlies fans need to be weary of is the fact all hot things eventually cool off and the Western Conference Finals would be a horrible time for that to happen. If the top players step up, the secondary guys continue to contribute and MacIntyre plays half as good as he has been then there are no worries for the very hot Marlies.