Toronto Marlies face several challenges in AHL final
Maple Leafs' minor league club will rely heavily on goalie Scrivens against Norfolk
Ben Scrivens brings some impressive numbers into the Calder Cup final.
But the Toronto Marlies goalie says his stats are "meaningless."
Heading into the Calder Cup finals, the 25-year-old leads all American Hockey League goaltenders in the post-season with a 1.61 goals against average, .944 save percentage and three shutouts. He's also been the most worked of any goaltender by minutes played and shots on net.
Recent Calder Cup champions
- 2010-11: Binghamton Senators
- 2009-10: Hershey Bears
- 2008-09: Hershey Bears
- 2007-08: Chicago Wolves
- 2006-07: Hamilton Bulldogs
- 2005-06: Hershey Bears
- 2004-05: Philadelphia Phantoms
- 2003-04: Milwaukee Admirals
- 2002-03: Houston Aeros
- 2001-02: Chicago Wolves
- 2000-01: Saint John Flames
"The key for me is to help these guys win," said Scrivens. "If I gave up four goals against, and we were in the same spot, that would be OK."
Scrivens has been solid through the first three rounds but he will face his biggest test to date when his Toronto Marlies faces off against the Norfolk Admirals for the Calder Cup, starting Friday night in Virginia.
The Admirals (55-18-3), affilliate to the Tampa Bay Lightning, scored a league-best 273 goals in the regular season, 56 more than the Marlies (44-24-8), and lead the playoffs with 45 in 14 games.
"Scrivy's gonna be heavily relied on," said Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins. "He's gonna get his full boat of scoring chances now."
28-game win streak
On top of being the best offensive team in the league, Norfolk also set a record for victories with 28 straight and finished atop the league standings with 113 points.
"They didn't do that by accident," said Eakins about Norfolk's record. "They're that good that it's easy for them to win that many games in a row."
"We're preparing for the best team in the league," he added. "They have 12 forwards who can all score, power at the back end, and the other thing they are healthy. We have a few challenges."
The biggest challenges Eakins club faces heading into the final is who he will be dressing and where his offence will come from.
Leading scorer Matt Frattin is done for the year after injuring his knee in the third round against the Oklahoma City Barons.
Nazem Kadri, Jesse Blacker and Mike Zigomanis haven't practised with the team all week while Marcel Mueller and Carter Ashton are close to returning, but haven't been cleared.
"Some guys are making some strides forward but for now we have to wait," said Eakins. "A lot of it will come down to the morning skate.
"[But], no matter how many injuries we have, our goal is to win Game 1. We're going in to win games no matter who's in the lineup."
Marlies show depth
With the absence of so many players from the top-six, other players have had the opportunity to step up and Eakins has taken notice.
"In this last round, here's Will Acton. He plays on our fourth line all year and he steps into a bigger role and probably plays the three best games of his life."
Eakins will also be looking at Jerry D'Amigo and Phil Dupuis to contribute as they are tied for the team lead with 13 points in 13 games.
Both clubs have had success with their penalty kill as the Marlies are number one in the post-season at 95.1 per cent while the Admirals are a close second at 93.6 per cent.
"It looks like it's gonna be hard for both teams to score on the power play," said Eakins. "I'd be more happy just to play the full thing five on five, no penalties either way and let the best team win."
This will be the first time in team history that Toronto and Norfolk will play each other as they have never met before in the regular season. This is also each team's first appearance in the finals.
Norfolk will go with Dustin Tokarski in goal. Tokarski is second, only to Scrivens, in both GAA and save percentage.
"We obviously know how well they did in the regular season," said Scrivens. "They're a great team and it's gonna be incredibly tough for us."