It’s proving defensive accountability, not scoring goals, that will take Brennan to next level

T.J. Brennan has 10 goals and 15 points in 10 games this season with the Marlies- Image courtesy of Getty Images

NOVEMBER 7TH, 2013

TORONTO– Defenceman T.J. Brennan has saved the Marlies on more than one occasion with his offensive talent through the early part of the AHL season.

He registered two hat tricks in his first three outings and on Tuesday he continued his production by scoring two goals and adding an assist in Toronto’s 5-2 victory against the Utica Comets. He now has 10 goals and 15 points in 10 games.

“He could play forward easily,” said Marlies goaltender Drew MacIntyre. “There are a handful of guys (in the AHL) who are very skilled offensively. You have to know where he is.”

His numbers currently lead all blue liners and are good for fourth spot in AHL scoring.  Producing points, however, has never been an issue for Brennan, who was taken by the Buffalo Sabres 31st overall in 2007.

For most of his career, the 24-year-old has been seen as a one-dimensional player. He’s primarily been an offensive blue liner who has used his freedom to jump into the play or even crash the net to cash in on a rebound. He has a great point shot and currently is running the Marlies power play, like he’s done with two AHL clubs prior.

Brennan’s played 40 NHL games split between the Sabres and Florida Panthers, with 29 of them coming last season after the NHL lockout finished in January. But he knows that after doing what he has done for five years at the AHL level that to stick in the NHL he needs to round out the defensive part of his game and be accountable everywhere on the ice.

“I really want to show I’m not a liability defensively,” said Brennan. “I want to show I can be put in any situation. I’ve had a taste of the NHL and mistakes you make down here are goals up there. I really want to focus on my defensive game.

“It’s nicer to play in the offensive zone but whether it’s two shifts or the whole game you have to make sure you’re hard to play against defensively.”

MacIntyre and Brennan spent the 2011-12 season together with the Rochester Americans and the veteran netminder has seen improvement in Brennan’s defensive game this year, despite him making the spotlight for his scoring.

‘I’ve seen a big change in him defensively, you can tell he’s worked hard,” said MacIntyre. “He knows that what he needs for the NHL, but he’s a good player.”

After earning AHL player of the week in the opening week of the season, Brennan was rewarded with a call up to the Maple Leafs, however he didn’t see any game action in the three days he was with the big club before being returned to the Marlies.

While the experience was short, it was enough to keep him motivated and determined to get better as an overall player.

“It’s good to get those reminders when you get up there, especially the level the pace,” said Brennan. “That’s where I want to be.”

Dating back to his time spent last season with the Americans, the Willingboro, N.J. native has produced 24 goal and 50 points in his last 46 AHL contests.

KYLE CICERELLA

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