If the setting of an NHL farm team is supposed to grow confidence, then the Maple Leafs could have a bumper crop in this spring’s AHL playoffs.
Of the players sent back by the parent team to the Marlies, Joe Colborne and Carter Ashton are already buoyed by seeing their names on the scoresheet again in the last days of the regular season and in Game 1 of the playoffs against Rochester.
Colborne had a two-point night on Thursday, his first in weeks, Ashton put up an assist on the last night of the schedule in Abbotsford, after an excruciating 15 games without a sniff with the Leafs. They’re both on a line with Matt Frattin, who was just starting to turn the corner in T.O. when it ran out of games.
Perhaps defenceman Jake Gardiner didn’t need further tutelage this year after hanging in all season with the Leafs, but he’s finding plenty of quality minutes with the Marlies and gets to see what it’s like to play well and do so in a winning environment. The Toronto brass keep coming back to how valuable it was for this year’s young Ottawa Senators to have gone through the whole Calder Cup experience last season in Binghamton.
And then there’s Ben Scrivens. He doesn’t have to worry about stepping into the ACC’s graveyard of goalies, with fans ready to pounce on him after a year of watching so many first-shot fatalities.
At Ricoh, he looks in control, even when Rochester shocked the Marlies by scoring first in Game 1 and then erased a 3-1 lead in the third. He sensed he would hold the fort, or the wall in front of him would re-build. True to form, the Marlies found a way to win 4-3.