Oct. 29th, 2013
TORONTO-The Toronto Marlies are having difficulty producing goals. But Spencer Abbott is doing everything he can to change that.
Abbott is one of the few bright spots up front for the Marlies as he’s riding a seven-game point streak, which includes one goal and 10 points. He’s been involved in 42% of Toronto’s goals this season and his nine assists are second in the AHL.
“After A few games you start to get a hold of the pace and after that you start to get more comfortable,” said Abbott.
Toronto opened the season with fifteen goals in its first three games, which were all victories, but scoring has dried up since and so have the wins. The Marlies have dropped three of their last five outings and are averaging only 1.80 goals per game through that stretch.
A big hit up front is the absence of captain Trevor Smith, who has been rewarded for his solid play with a call up to the Leafs twice already. In four games with the Marlies Smith has three goals, which still leads all forwards despite being off the roster since Oct. 15th, and eight points.
“I did not want to give him the stigma of being the captain in the American league and that being an anchor,” said Marlies head coach Steve Spott. “The fact he was our best player he was rewarded for it and it sends the right message.”
Enhancing the lack of scoring from up front is the fact that defenceman T.J. Brennan leads the club with eight goals in eight games. But he’s gone three games without a goal and Spott understands the blue liner’s hot start to the season cannot be relied on any longer.
“Ultimately teams will start isolating T.J., especially on the power play,” said Spott.
Brad Ross, Sam Carrick, Andrew Crescenzi, Jamie Devane, David Broll and Leivo are all still looking for their first goal of the season. And Jerry D’Amigo’s lone goal of the campaign, although a game winner, was scored into an empty net.
Spott realizes with the make up of his club, there is no one forward the team can turn to. So he’s looking for all four lines to produce.
“With the forward group we have we are going to have to score by committee, it’s no secret,” said Spott. “We have to use size and strength in the offensive zone, protect the puck and ultimately get it to the net and then battle in the blue paint. We are not going to be the prettiest team up front.”
McKegg is tied with Smith for most goals amongst forwards with three. The 21-year-old is currently playing centre on the top line alongside Abbott and Leivo.
Toronto plays its next five games on the road, starting with the Hamilton Bulldogs on Nov. 1st.