Toronto Marlies vs Texas Stars: Game 4, Western Conference Finals

Photo Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars

“Attack” and “desperation” were Steve Spott’s buzzwords last night, directed toward the Marlie forward group in particular, after the Marlies fell behind in a series for the first time in these playoffs following a 3-2 defeat to Texas in Game 3.

“Our 12 forwards have not found the level of desperation their 12 forwards have.”

“We don’t have enough forwards onboard right now getting the job done with puck possession and offensive zone time. We need more offensive zone time from our forwards.”

“We cannot turn over pucks in the neutral zone. We have to get pucks deep and hunt people down and we just haven’t done that enough this series.”

The Marlies continue to go out to early leads – ten consecutive after last night’s TJ Brennan goal in the first period – but have not been able to dictate the pace of games in this series, something that will need to change in a crucial Game 4 matchup tonight.

The one line Spott seemed pleased with after the game was the Biggs, Ross and Ryan unit, which he felt showed the desperation and physicality down low he is looking for from his forward group. Some crashing and banging in the corner by Ross and Biggs led to a point blank chance for Kenny Ryan (who was shifted to center) that was somehow turned away by Nilstorp early in the second period with the game tied at 1s.

Spott also blended together a Kid Line of Leivo, Carrick and McKegg seeking a spark up front.

The Marlies have to find their game fast here. A 3-1 hole, obviously, means Texas has three chances to close the series out, and with the AHL playoff format both Games 6 and 7 would be in their home barn.