The St. John’s IceCaps are headed into the final two games prior to the AHL All-Star break a bit on their heels. The club has only won three of its last 10 games, yet is still clinging to third place of the North Division.
Thankfully they will be able to count on the inspiration facing the Toronto Marlies conjures up, as the games between these two teams usually bring the best out of the IceCaps. So far this season, the IceCaps have the advantage, having won three out of the five games in the season series to date.
Chris Terry and Michael McCarron have been playing well since returning from the Montreal Canadiens, but Nikita Scherbak has struggled. As has Daniel Audette, who led the IceCaps in points in December. Charles Hudon appears to have returned to form after returning from injury, and should continue to drive the offence for the team.
Another player who is struggling is goaltender Charlie Lindgren, who has won only one of his last five starts, showing an .885 save percentage and a 3.27 goals-against average over that span. Backup goaltender Yann Danis has fared much better, winning two out of his four starts this month, putting up a .932 save percentage and a 1.98 goals-against average. The two goalies have been alternating all month, and there is little reason to believe that they won’t split duties again this weekend.
Some pleasant surprises include the offensive support from the defence. While that was solely provided by Mark Barberio at the start of the season, the club can now count on Tom Parisi, Julien Brouillette, and Brett Lernout to chip in on offence. The returning Ryan Johnston should also be able to lend a hand with his strong puck-moving skills.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the month, due to no expectations going in, is PTO signee Anthony Camara, who has three points in five games, and shares the lead for goals this month with four other players, all at two goals apiece.
For the Marlies, they’ll have to make do without the services of Brendan Leipsic and Kasperi Kapanen — two of the top players in the league — and those are major blows to what was already a weakened squad, as last year’s powerhouse has been stripped of its best pieces by the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Marlies currently sit in fifth place in the North Division, and must be viewing this two-game divisional series as incredibly crucial to their playoff hopes. The team will hope the recently acquired Kerby Rychel can lead them to victory.
The last time these two teams played was Boxing Day in Toronto, where the IceCaps won 2-1 against their forever rivals.
The games go on Friday, January 27 at 6:00 PM EST and Saturday, January 28 at 12:30 PM EST. As always, you can watch the games on AHLlive.com, listen to them on KIXX Country, and read about them on EOTP.
Listen to Andrew weekly on TSN 690 Radio Sundays at 8:05am on Habs Breakfast, part of Weekend Game Plan.