(CP) — The fate of the Toronto Marlies in the second round of the American Hockey League playoffs could come down to the continued offensive success of two penalty killers and a rookie center.
All the trio did was put up eight goals and six assists in a three-game sweep, and Eakins is looking for more of the same when Toronto kicks off the second round of the playoffs at home against the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday night.
"I hope we can rely on all of our lines," said Eakins. "We’d like more scoring out of everyone, but that’s a line that we’ll start with."
Top penalty killers Scott and D’Amigo, along with 2010 third-round pick McKegg, provided more than 60 percent of Toronto’s offense against Rochester.
"In a sense, we’re kind of similar players," said Scott. "Jerry and I have had chemistry before. McKegg’s a good skilled guy who can get the puck to the net and more often than not good things will come with that."
Scott had a breakout series against the Americans, leading all scorers with five goals and an assist in three games.
"I was playing with good guys who were getting the puck to me and I just put my head down and had some luck," he added. "Hopefully I’ll have the same result in the Grand Rapids series."
Toronto enters relatively healthy after an eight-day layoff, with only forward Spencer Abbott expected to miss Game 1 with an undisclosed injury.
"In the playoffs (rest) is a double-edged sword," said Eakins. "Against Rochester I didn’t like the way we matched up. I ran five forwards really, really hard and they didn’t need a day off, they needed three days off. So that was a good rest for us."
The Griffins, who needed five games to down the Houston Aeros in the first round, were led by forward Tomas Tatar (three goals, one assist) and rookie goaltender Petr Mrazek, who posted a 1.83 goals-against average and .924 save percentage.
Toronto finished the regular season second in the AHL’s Western Conference, while the Griffins finished in third spot, four points back. The Marlies took the season series 2-0-2, but all of those games were played prior to the end of the NHL lockout, meaning each club’s roster has changed drastically since the last meeting in December.
"We’ve been watching their games," said Eakins. "It doesn’t look like their systems have drastically changed. They have some guys up (in NHL), but they look like the basis of their game is the same as the last couple years. In the end you play against who’s out there, so there’s no Plan B."
While the Marlies were a perfect 16-for-16 on the penalty kill against the Americans, success against Grand Rapids will likely be a product of improved discipline against the offensively gifted Griffins.
"With Grand Rapids being so highly skilled, their power play is going to be dangerous," said Scott. "Our penalty kill during the regular season wasn’t where we wanted it but we still have tons of confidence. This is the time that matters."
Notes: Toronto goalie Drew MacIntyre, who earned his first career AHL playoff win with the Griffins in 2006 against the Marlies, had a solid first round by stopping 93-of-98 shots to go along with a shutout. … Depending on the post-season success of their parent NHL clubs, Joe Colborne and Ryan Hamilton are eligible to return from the Maple Leafs, while the Griffins could get forwards Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson back from the Detroit Red Wings.