The Toronto Marlies waited until Game 72, the last game on their regular season schedule to clinch a playoff berth, and they missed it.
Today’s 5-2 loss to the Belleville Senators left them just one point in the standings of a playoff berth. Instead of the Marlies, the Rochester Americans (bison sabers affiliates) will advance in their place for the North Division.
To say it’s a disappointment is an understatement. It’s the first time the Marlies have missed the playoffs since 2011, but more so because they’ve spent much of that season sitting in second place in the division standings. The downfall only started this spring, then accelerated recently, including not only today’s loss, but also two more to Belleville this month as Ottawa Senators affiliates surged in ranking at the last minute.
Goaltending questions are swirling around the team, with Michael Hutchinson in goal for most games recently following the injury to Joseph Woll. He was backed up by Keith Petruzzelli, called in from Newfoundland on occasion, and a rotating cast of emergency signings also appeared behind him. Then, for today’s match, Carter Hutton made a surprise appearance as a substitute. He was acquired in a bizarre trade with the Coyotes for “future considerations” in February.
It’s unclear what will happen next season as Hutton and Hutchinson are unrestricted free agents who can sign anywhere now – Hutton can officially retire – while Woll recently received a three-year contract extension. years.
Ian Scott’s long-term health continues to be uncertain. The Leafs’ goaltending pipeline includes Artur Akhtyamov, drafted in 2020, but they can also make another run for Harri Säteri’s signature and then try to get him through waivers again without another team claiming him. roughly.
This was Greg Moore’s third season as the team’s head coach, but only the first with a full season as the previous two were shortened and the playoffs canceled due to the global pandemic. A change there seems unlikely at this point, not only because this is his first real full season, which was still partially disrupted, but also after the Leafs hired Ryan Hardy to be the general manager of the Marlies this season. Hardy was Moore’s general manager in his previous position as head coach of the Chicago Steel in the USHL.
So ends our coverage of the Marlies game for this season. I personally thank you for reading all that we have been able to manage this year. There were times when it was difficult for me to attend or watch games, as I’m sure everyone else was, but here comes next season, hopefully, finally, to be all totally ‘normal’, and stay tuned for the summer as we’ll be covering many of these Marlies in our annual Top 25 Under 25 series which will begin in July or early August.