Marlies' Scrivens must play bigger

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

HOUSTON - Dallas Eakins wants Ben Scrivens to play like a No. 1 goalie or risk losing his spot in the pecking order of Maple Leaf call-ups.

But the Marlies aren’t offering much defensive support to last year’s team MVP these days, be it technical, physical or emotional.

Coverage breakdowns and turnovers conspired for a rough night against the Aeros on Thursday, before special teams bailed out the Marlies for a 6-4 win.

Toronto killed a Houston two-man advantage for 1:29, then quickly pumped in three third-period goals to rescue Scrivens from a fourth loss in six starts.

Scrivens allowed a five-hole softie with 20 seconds to go in what had already been a horrendous second period for the rest of the team. Scrivens’ goals-against is now scratching the 3.00 mark.

“He’s officially in a fight for the net,” Eakins declared at the morning skate. “We’re far enough into the season that everyone has their feet wet. We’re looking for wins now. We don’t want to fall too far out of this race. I know there are a lot of games left, I know it’s early, but if you fall in a very deep hole now, you’ll never recover.”

Based on that, it will be tempting for Eakins to use big Finn Jussi Rynnas on Friday in Austin, the second of three straight games in Texas.

“Jussi played well in the two games he’s been in (a win and shootout loss) and he’s firmly pushing as well,” the coach said.

Scrivens was victimized by a Jesse Blacker slot turnover on Jason Zucker’s goal and Charlie Coyle had two Marlies go down trying to stop his shot, succeeding only in confusing Scrivens who had the puck slide through him.

Eakins has was much harder on his forwards to cash in during three days of practice after back-to-back losses in B.C., but could use Scrivens or someone to steal a win on this trip.

Mark Owuya gave up four in his only start last week in Abbotsford and the night before Scrivens gave up two goals in an AHL record three seconds in a 3-0 loss, the other an empty-netter.

New Leafs goalie coach Rick St. Croix was already coming on this three-game Texas portion of the Marlies road trip and Eakins hoped he could give all three netminders some needed one-on-one attention.

Game On

A two-goal game from Carter Ashton, including the winner on the power play, enhanced his chances to stay on a new line with checker Will Acton and Nicolas Deschamps ... Toronto scored first, a nice rush by centre Acton, who warded off his check until the last second and centred to Ashton. Deschamps has just one in seven games ... “Our starts have actually been good,” Eakins said. “But it has to be for 60 minutes. It can’t be a situation where we move to a Plan B after the first period. We have to use Plan A right through the game. We need a lot more with second chances, a little more effort from certain players.” ... Nazem Kadri and Joe Colborne were caught up ice on play that led to an odd-rush Houston goal, while the Aeros twice broke away with Hail Mary passes, one from goalie Mark Hackett ... Projected Leafs checker Leo Komarov continues to get comfortable, tipping in his second of the year ... Ryan Hamilton had an empty netter.

Aucoin zaps the zero

Keith Aucoin went into the game as Toronto’s leading scorer with six assists, but no goals.

“I’m not known as a scorer, but I don’t think I’ve ever gone this long without a goal,” Aucoin lamented. “We’re having some difficulty finding some chemistry, but I think it will come. There are a lot of talented people on this team.”

A prophetic statement, as Aucoin deposited a Jake Gardiner pass in the second period to tie the game 2-2. The veteran Aucoin is being modest about his scoring exploits with six seasons of 20 or more in the AHL.

Marlies Minutiae

Too good not to mention from a few days ago was the first pro goal for Spencer Abbott, which came in Abbotsford, B.C., called by John Abbott of TSN Radio. “He’s no relation, unless he gives me his signing bonus,” joked John Abbott ... Defenceman Dylan Yeo was one of the Marlies’ scratches on defence. He’s not related to Mike Yeo, the coach of Houston’s parent team, the Minnesota Wild, but is a nephew of ex-Leaf Dave Manson ... Emulating the Dallas Cowboys, the Toyota Center has its own scoreboard-on-steroids. The 50-X-25 foot HD monster stretches across centre ice a little past both blue lines, though it was installed with the Houston Rockets in mind ... The Aeros were without one of the AHL’s most exciting players, 5-foot-10 centre Mikael Granlund. He has 12 points in eight games, but is injured.


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