The Toronto Maple Leafs aren't the only ones making a second half push for the playoffs. Their AHL affiliate the Toronto Marlies are also hoping to squeak in.
They are currently sitting 12th out of 15 team in the Western Conference, but only three points behind the eighth seeded Manitoba Moose. The first place Milwaukee Admirals are actually only sitting at 69 points, while the Marlies are at 61 points. It's as close a race as the Western Conference in the NHL.
The Marlies will have to do better than the 5-5 they have gone over the last 10 games if they hope to climb the standings at all.
One of the people that might be able to help them do that is newly added centre Joe Colborne, who was acquired from the Boston Bruins in the Tomas Kaberle trade on Friday.
Playing in his first game against the Grand Rapids Griffins on Saturday, Colborne scored in the second period to reduce a 2-0 deficit. Colborne is a towering centre at 6'5" and 215 lbs, and is still young, having just turned 21.
With Christian Hanson having been called up to the Leafs, Colborne will replenish the Marlies strength at centre.
Another important piece in the playoff push is Nazem Kadri, who tied it up when he notched the Marlies second goal in the period and his first goal in the AHL on the powerplay. Kadri is starting to find his touch in the AHL, currently at a point-a-game pace for the season with 31 points in 32 games.
What could hurt the Marlies chances is the current rash of injuries to goalies in the Maple Leafs organization. Jonas Gustavsson was sent down on a conditioning assignment to the Marlies, but then was knocked out of play with his third heart ablation surgery. Jussi Rynnas, who had taken over starter duties with the Marlies after James Reimer was called up, broke his finger in practice this past week.
Finally, with J.S. Giguere suffering a lower body injury in the first period against the Buffalo Sabres, that meant that Ben Scrivens had to be called up to to the Leafs to back-up Reimer. That leaves Andrew Engelage to take over starting for the Marlies after being brought up from the ECHL.
Leafs head coach Ron Wilson has recently mentioned that if they are available, Reimer and Keith Aulie could be sent down to help the Marlies in the playoffs if they make it.
The Marlies ended up winning against the Griffins in the shootout with John Mitchell, Mike Zigomanis and Colborne scoring.
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