Future is Red-Light Bright: Toronto Marlies Keep on Scoring

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On Sunday the Toronto Marlies showed a trait they have proven all season: They can score their way out of trouble, and then score some more.

The Marlies were trailing the Binghamton Senators 2-1 in the second period, and only had five shots on net. They looked lethargic, something nobody could blame them for considering the over half-a-month road trip they had to start November.

Then the game got flipped on its head. William Nylander scored his 10th of the season, and the floodgates flew open with three Marlies goals in just under five minutes. When the second period was over it was 4-2.

Brandan Leipsic would add a late goal and the Marlies would go on to win 5-4. It was the seventh time in the last 10 games that they scored five or more goals in a game.

Future is Red-Light Bright: Toronto Marlies Keep on Scoring

The Marlies have now scored 74 goals on the season in just 18 games played. That puts them on pace for an incredible 311 goals. To put that in perspective, the top offensive team from last year, the Grand Rapids Griffins, only had 249 goals.

Putting up over four goals per game likely isn’t sustainable, but it’s an incredibly impressive offensive start for a young Marlies team that is making a strong statement about the future of the Maple Leafs organization.

With scoring like that it is only natural that the wins are following. The Marlies just wrapped up their most successful November road trip in history and have won nine of their last 10 games, bringing their record to 14-3-1 for a league-leading 29 points.

Not only have they been scoring, the right guys have been scoring. Nylander leads the AHL in points with 10 goals and 23 points. He is also currently on a 10-game scoring streak. Whether or not he makes the NHL this season, they cannot hold him down for much longer.

“I’m playing with so many great players, [scoring is] a token of their hard work,” said Nylander after the game against the Sens. “But the points, they are not as important as long as this team wins games.”

Josh Leivo has 15 points in 14 games, Leipsic has 11 points. Meanwhile, Kasperi Kapanen may be inconsistent this season, but a three-point game against the Senators will go a long way towards getting his season back on track.

More importantly, he appears to work well with Nylander. Less than a minute into the game Nylander had already found Kapanen in the slot on the powerplay. Kapanen returned the favour in the second period.

“You know it’s great I think we find each other,” said Nylander. “I think he played great today, I mean he’s been out for two weeks or so.”

The team is getting a healthy dose of veteran scoring as well. Richard Panik is leading the way with 16 points in 16 games, drawing into question whether or not an NHL team may want his services soon.

T.J. Brennan is continuing to be the AHL’s best offensive defenceman with 15 points in 17 games, while the addition of Mark Arcobello has certainly helped as well. Sent down from the Leafs, Arcobello has put up 12 points in his first nine games on the farm.

It’s early days still for the Marlies, who have a long season ahead with the promise of losing at least a few of their key players to the big team at some point.

But this run isn’t meaningless, and points at an organizational prospect depth that hasn’t been seen in Toronto in a long time.

There is still plenty of pain ahead as the Leafs try to rebuild an identity long lost, but if one wants hope in the future, the Ricoh Coliseum will provide plenty.

A lot of red lights will be going off in the process.

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