AGD: AT the Center of the Universe

Kent Wilson
November 01 2012 02:03PM

Time: 8:00 pm MST

Location: Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Center

Broadcast: abbotsfordheat.com, teamradio.ca

The Heat have had four days to recuperate after their difficult back-to-back-to-back schedule from last weekend. Now they face another B2B series with the Marlies, starting tonight in Abbostford.The Marlies are 3-2-1 in six games so far and have scored as many goals (17) as they have given up. The Heat, on the other hand, have a goal differential +9 and despite a mediocre .500 weekend, remain tied for third in the Western Conference with 10 points.

Abby's record is a good one, but they have nevertheless been outshot in five of their seven contests this year, including each of the last three. The overall differential isn't terrible (-7) because they ran away with a couple of games, but overall it's a trend the team will want to reverse if they want to stay on top of the standings. After all, the goaltending and the PK aren't going to be outlandishly good forever.

The Lineup

As always, we can't be sure which veteran is going to draw the short straw so it's tough to accurately predict the heat's depth chart.

  • Baertschi - Walter - Sylvester
  • Street - Kolanos - Ruesegger
  • Horak - Reinhart - Aliu
  • Estoclet - Laing - Bancks

  • Brodie - Piskula
  • McCarthy - Breen
  • Callahan - Lamb

  • Taylor

The Baertschi line was fairly quiet last game, so it's possible they might be broken up in favor of some other combination. On the other hand, Aliu and Horak led the way with five and eights shots each against Hamilton, which was about 44% of the Heat's total shots on goal for that game.

No word on when Nemisz and Byron will be poised to return to the active roster. Taylor remains the incumbent starter, so is likely the guy to go tonight.

The Opponent

I don't know much about the Marlies, but luckily Gus Katsaros of McKeen's Hockey and LeafsNation does. Here's what he had to say about the Heat's foe tonight:

Marlies are (what should be) a high scoring team that isn't scoring goals. They've improved their movement on the power play, but have only had marginal success. It's a real strange phenomenon. Penalty killing has really suffered too, in the mid-20's now after leading the AHL for two straight seasons.

Following was the lineup from last game as Blacker and Korbinian Holzer were out. I would assume Holzer draws back in for Ranger or Gysbers:

  • Deschamps - Aucoin - McKegg
  • Ashton - Colborne - Komarov
  • Hamilton - Kadri - Zigomanis
  • D’Amigo - Acton - Ryan

  • Fraser - Ranger
  • Gardiner - Kostka
  • Yeo - Gysber

  • Scrivens

Players to Watch for

- Nazem Kadri – the obvious choice, a legitimate offensive threat who has struggled to put up points (6-0-3-3), although not for the lack of creativity and a level of feistiness.

- Keith Aucoin – Burke made the claim he could get games at the NHL level, and that’s likely so for small call ups, but brought in as a skilled addition at the AHL level. Yet to score and his six assists are evenly split three apiece in two separate games, with four scoreless games. Started off with Kadri but separated lately with the lack of production as a line-wide issue.

- Joe Colborne – hasn’t found that pre-injury form yet, but glimpses of distribution ability and vision. Has to get to the net more often and goals will come. I felt he’s been a been too heavy in the perimeter, advancing the play, rather than creating offense.

- Leo Komarov – pest that will get under your skin and drive you nuts. The Heat will hate him.

- Greg McKegg – good engine and consistent work ethic has shown a little touch around the goal.

- Jake Gardiner – cornerstone rushing blueliner that changes the tempo of a game moving the puck up ice and controls the power play at the top of the umbrella.

- Mike Kostka – a feel good story of how he’s ascended to this point in his career, that now includes a Calder Cup Championship, and the fluky goal against the Marlies in Game 3 of the Finals (off a stanchion into an open net).

Sum It Up

Toronto is a middling, .500 team so far this season, but were the club who eliminated the Heat from the Calder cup playoffs last year and ended up going all the way to the finals before bowing out to the Norfolk Admirals. They also have several high level players in Kadri, Aucoin, Colborne and Gardiner so they can't be taken lightly.

The Heat, on the other hand, have survived recently thanks to a near perfect PK, very good goaltending and the red hot stick of Roman Horak. Fundamentally, however, they've been underwhelming, surrendering more shots on goal and penalties than their opponents. Perhaps tonight they can start turning that around. 

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Former Nations Overlord. Current FN contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#1 Rubberbadger
November 01 2012, 02:41PM
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Would be nice if they would show these games on TV...

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#3 nsmig
November 01 2012, 03:06PM
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For that Barons Heat game, are you going to do scoring chances for it? It would be interesting to see how the Heat do against big leaguers. Possibly give us an idea who is ready for the big team. Even though it would be a very small sample size.

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#4 beloch
November 01 2012, 03:06PM
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Baertschi is getting a lot of shots and has a 16.7% sh%, which is probably sustainable. Horak has a sky high sh% of 26.9%! A regression seems inevitable.

Still, it's good to see Horak tearing it up. He is just one year older than Baertschi. A full season in the NHL may have toughened him up but he just wasn't getting points, possibly because he was focused on learning the two-way game. This stretch back in the AHL might give him some "swagger".

Has anyone who's been watching the Heat noticed whether Horak has taken a developmental step forward? It's probably a pipe-dream, but I can't help but hope the Flames somehow managed to walk away from the Erixon fiasco with something more than a fourth-liner!

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#6 bookofloob
November 01 2012, 06:17PM
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Leland Irving y'all

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#8 jeremywilhelm
November 01 2012, 08:22PM
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Brust is in eh.

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#9 jeremywilhelm
November 01 2012, 08:23PM
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Ooh Bancks with a high hit.

Or a knee.

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#14 jeremywilhelm
November 01 2012, 08:44PM
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Reinhart is having some abysmal puck luck so far.

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#15 SmellOfVictory
November 01 2012, 08:44PM
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I'd just like to say: these Neulion AHL feeds are not worth the $7.00. No HD and the pbp keeps skipping.

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#17 jeremywilhelm
November 01 2012, 08:46PM
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Colborne, dummy.

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#20 jeremywilhelm
November 01 2012, 08:53PM
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@Kent Wilson

I hope so, the Heat are the superior 5v5 team.

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#21 SmellOfVictory
November 01 2012, 08:54PM
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Colborne is an impressive dude.

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#22 jeremywilhelm
November 01 2012, 08:57PM
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@SmellOfVictory

Meh, I mean, he has the ability to be more dominant, but he is pretty lazy.

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#23 funkyjaman
November 01 2012, 09:02PM
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Classic Shawshank Kent! " I don't give sh@T"! Ha!

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#24 jeremywilhelm
November 01 2012, 09:02PM
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TJ Brodie's confidence out there is pretty impressive, the kid has ice water in his veins and is making plays with the puck that makes my ass pucker haha.

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#25 SmellOfVictory
November 01 2012, 09:08PM
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jeremywilhelm wrote:

Meh, I mean, he has the ability to be more dominant, but he is pretty lazy.

Yeah, you can feel it when you watch him. He's got a lot of skill, and if he applies it I see him as a useful NHLer.

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#26 jeremywilhelm
November 01 2012, 09:11PM
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@SmellOfVictory

Yeah, I'm watching tonight, he has the ability to be a much bigger impact.

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#27 jeremywilhelm
November 01 2012, 09:13PM
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kolanos takes some overly long shifts.

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#28 jeremywilhelm
November 01 2012, 09:20PM
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Chris Breen, not as terrible as Kent would have you believe.

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#29 SmellOfVictory
November 01 2012, 09:22PM
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jeremywilhelm wrote:

Chris Breen, not as terrible as Kent would have you believe.

Haha I was just thinking: if he was like 25% faster on his feet and less awkward, he'd probably be a solid bottom 6 defender. Good PKer at least.

Nice to see Baertschi bust out some flash, too. This game's been a tad boring at times.

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#31 jeremywilhelm
November 01 2012, 09:23PM
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@SmellOfVictory

I think if Breen can learn to play within his limits, using his reach and strength in the defensive zone, he could be a poor mans Hal Gill, on a bottom pairing.

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#32 jeremywilhelm
November 01 2012, 09:25PM
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@Kent Wilson

He's 6'7, there are few players that size that will look anything other than awkward on skates. Maybe an Adam Pardy? cheap depth Dman.

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#34 jeremywilhelm
November 01 2012, 09:27PM
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I don't really see Kadri as ever being a top 6 NHLer.

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#36 jeremywilhelm
November 01 2012, 09:32PM
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@Kent Wilson

That's why I mean he needs to learn how to play within his limits. Much like Hal Gill has. That guy is an abysmal skater, but he plays so well within his means he is a pretty decent Pker and Dman.

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#37 jeremywilhelm
November 01 2012, 09:35PM
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Akim Aliu is all kinds of useless.

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#38 jeremywilhelm
November 01 2012, 09:36PM
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TJ Brodie must be at 20 minutes already.

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#40 jeremywilhelm
November 01 2012, 10:04PM
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@Kent Wilson

Like I said, 5v5, the Heat are the much better team.

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#42 schevvy
November 01 2012, 10:24PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Two SHG 3 seconds apart? How is that even possible?

Haha what the hell? The only way that's remotely possible is well..um... anyone?

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#43 schevvy
November 01 2012, 10:29PM
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That has to be a misprint. Anyone watching the game? If so, did they actually score 2 goals 3 seconds apart?

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#44 SmellOfVictory
November 01 2012, 10:37PM
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Got bored and stopped after the 2nd period, unfortunately. Shame.

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#45 funkyjaman
November 01 2012, 10:45PM
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Ya that really happened. Street batted the puck off the centre ice face off and fooled Scrivens with a quicky.

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#46 jeremywilhelm
November 01 2012, 10:58PM
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Nazem Kadri is useless. This makes me happy.

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#47 Baalzamon
November 01 2012, 11:13PM
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Brust should get the start next game. Shutout earned it.

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#48 RexLibris
November 01 2012, 11:36PM
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Looking forward to Nov. 10th.

Btw - Oilers prospect Brandon Davidson, kind of a feel good story as a kid who started hockey late, got drafted as a long shot and signed his ELC this year, was diagnosed with testicular cancer recently. He's in the AHL right now but is going to miss considerable time for treatment.

Back to the Heat - if they give up 9 powerplays to the Barons it could be some kind of long night for the team. That being said, they sound like they are succeeding with hard work and second effort. That is a solid base to build off.

Oh, congratulations on beating the Marlies. =)

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#49 jeremywilhelm
November 02 2012, 12:23AM
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5 of the 10 penalties were of a considerably pathetic call variety. The Heat won in spite of some pretty shoddy reffing.

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#50 CFan in Vic
November 02 2012, 07:16AM
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Good penalties or bad, the heat have to be the most penalized team in the league. Almost every game this season has been a constant parade to the box. This will have to change; the PK won't operate at 97% forever.

And yeah, 2 SH goals in 3 seconds. Never happen again. The stream I was watching was still showing a replay of the first goal when the sound of the horn interrupted the announcer. No replay.

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