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Rare 5pm Game versus Monsters

Marlies look to keep playoff hopes alive with a victory against Lake Erie.

by Clayton Hansler
April 2, 2011

RELATED: Marlies Fall Short in ShootoutMarlies Playoff Hopes Takes a HitAll Crossed Up
VIDEO: Mar. 26th vs Monsters | 
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TORONTO MARLIES (35-29-1-10) -VS- LAKE ERIE MONSTERS (40-27-3-5)


With the Marlies now counting down their final five games of the season starting with Saturday's matchup against the Lake Erie Monsters, the Toronto team can only hope that some of the pucks will start bouncing in their favour.

After suffering their sixth loss in seven games on Wednesday, their lone victory being one of only two games decided by more than one goal over that span, the frustration is starting to mount for the Toronto team that has seemingly outplayed their opposition. Over their six losses, the Marlies have outshot the opposition in four of those games, giving the club a total shot advantage of 192-163 despite not earning a single victory and garnering only two post-regulation points.

Ben Scrivens, likely to start his 14th consecutive game on Saturday, has been a rock for the Marlies allowing more than two goals against a mere five times in 13 contests, and greater than three goals only twice. Tied for third in the AHL alongside fellow rookie Eddie Lack with a 0.927 save percentage, Scrivens play since assuming the starting role with the Marlies late in the season has been a beacon for the Marlies who rely on a tight defensive system and strong goaltending to lead them to victory in often low-scoring games.

No stranger to strong netminding, the Lake Erie Monsters enter Toronto with likely a similar game plan. With a combined three goals over their past two games - both losses - and only 11 tallies in their past five games, the Monsters have leaned on the tandem of veteran goaltenders Jason Bacashihua and John Grahame to keep the game close.

Lake Erie's last victory came by way of the shootout in Toronto on March 26th before suffering their first loss in nine games a few days later. On a short road swing into Canada, the Monsters dropped their game Friday night in Hamilton - it being the first time since January 22/23 that the Monsters' squad failed to pick up any points in two straight games.

Side-to-side in the standings, the Monsters in third and Marlies in fourth, Lake Erie can clinch a playoff berth with a victory Saturday. Toronto, who sit seven points back of Lake Erie, can keep their playoff hope alive with a win and pull into a tie with the West division's fifth place Rivermen who presently threaten to cross-over to the North and edge the Marlies out of a post season berth.

Practicing through the week and likely to make a return on the weekend, Marcel Mueller hopes to rejoin his teammates for the final five games of the season. Mueller has not played since leaving March 26th against the Manitoba Moose where he left the game after sustaining a hit in the defensive zone.

Mike Zigomanis has not practiced with the team, and is not yet ready to make a return to the active roster. Zigomanis has been sidelined with an upper-body injury since March 23rd. The veteran forward leads the Marlies in points with 47 over his 64 games played. Zigomanis' late season injury marks his first absence from the roster since being assigned to the Marlies and dressing November 3rd for his first AHL contest of the season.

Puck drop is scheduled for 5:00pm at Ricoh Coliseum, and will be televised on RogersTV and broadcast online on AHL Live. Follow the Toronto Marlies, John Bartlett and Chansler on twitter for updates on all the action, and join the game long conversation on the Marlies Facebook page.

Having a problem putting a name to a number? Check out the full Marlies' roster here.


EXPECTED MARLIES LINEUP


STARTING IN GOAL: #30 Ben Scrivens


FORWARD LINES


Brunnstrom - Colborne - Brenner
Hamilton - Foster - Hanson
Cowan - Caruana - Scott
Engel - Acton - Voros


DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS

Gardiner - Holzer
Mikus - Gysbers
Richmond-Brennan


Notes: Laker Erie has collected 10 of a possible 12 points against the Marlies this season … Marcel Mueller leads the team with three goals against the Monsters this season, all coming in the Marlies lone victory against Lake Erie on December 11th … Lake Erie's 24th ranked powerplay has managed only one goal in their past 21 times with the man advantage spanning five games … Player to Watch: Jake Gardiner. Looking comfortable immediately after joining the AHL, Gardiner's offensive awareness and contribution continues to grow.

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