Toronto Marlies gear up for playoff run after NHL trade deadline

AHL club hopes to gain momentum over final 19 games

Toronto Marlies practice
Toronto Marlies players Hudson Elynuik (left), Matt Bradley (middle), and Richard Clune (right) during a morning skate at Coca-Cola Coliseum. The team was preparing for a Tuesday night game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. (Zach Worden photo)  

The Maple Leafs’ AHL franchise is turning its focus to the remainder of the regular season now that the noise that comes along with rumours and deals is behind it.

Marlies lost just one body on Monday when Alex Biega was sent to the Nashville Predators for future considerations.

After the Biega deal, the team can focus on the group they have for the 19 remaining games on their schedule. 

“We’re just going to keep striving to be consistent, whether it’s in your individual play and effort [or] whether it’s within the team construct,” said assistant coach A.J. MacLean, in a scrum after the Tuesday morning skate.

“As you gear up towards a playoff run or playoff push, you want to just become a more consistent team in all areas of your game.”

For 22-year-old forward Alex Steeves, building that consistency as a team is key for the Marlies (28-21-4) to have a shot at competing for a Calder Cup. 

“I think the focus is on creating a consistent identity. We have a good group of players who are capable of winning every game,” Steeves said, outside the dressing room. “It’s just making sure we have the right culture and identity to be as consistent as possible, to give ourselves the best chance.”

The Marlies now enter a stretch that can make or break a team’s season. They play six games in the next eight days, and MacLean says it will take the entire roster to emerge from this stint successfully. 

“It’s going to be hard … It’s going to be on everybody, not just the players, to manage their body, their ice time [and] how they’re feeling,” he said. “It’s really a full team effort to make sure [we] get through this stretch unscathed and in a positive light on the scoresheet.”

As for Biega, he had served the 2021-22 season as an assistant captain for the Marlies.

Through 31 games with the Maple Leafs’ developmental squad, he had seven points and was a plus-13 for the season. 

“He’s a really good person, first and foremost. He comes to the rink early in the morning and he’s always got a smile on his face,” said MacLean, filling in for coach Greg Moore, whose wife had a baby the night before.

“(Alex is) a competitor, whether it’s in practice or games … any team would love to have him. We’re all going to miss him, but we wish him the best of luck.”

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Posted: Mar 22 2022 7:32 pm
Filed under: Hockey Sports Toronto Marlies