By Ryan O’NeilDecember 12, 2017 11:09amThe NHL’s playoff format is designed to give teams a chance to compete for home ice advantage in the conference finals, but sometimes the teams are on opposite sides of the continent, so it’s a lot more fun to see them play in different places than in front of your TV.
The Marlies, the reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners, are a prime example of that.
The Marlies have played seven games in Toronto this season, winning three and losing four.
Toronto beat them 3-2 on Tuesday night, a game that was the second time in as many games that the Marlies lost in the first round of the playoffs.
“The game was a lot different than it was last year,” Marlies captain Jake Gardiner said.
“There were a lot of changes, a lot going on.
It was different, too.
I think the whole atmosphere, the whole city, is a lot better.”
Toronto beat the Marlie for the first time in their playoff run this season in 2013, but they lost in overtime to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
In that game, Pittsburgh won 4-3 in overtime.
“It was definitely a great atmosphere,” Gardiner added.
“It’s a great place, a great city, a fantastic fan base, great team.
It’s something that we’re all going to miss out on a lot.”
The Leafs, meanwhile, won six games in their first seven playoff games and now sit atop the Eastern Conference with eight points from six games.
Toronto has been outscored 6-3 this season.
The Kings have won three of their last four games, but have a two-game lead on the Marlettes in the Eastern conference.
Sacramento, which has been on the verge of elimination in the West, beat Toronto 4-2 Tuesday night.
Kings coach Dave Joerger is not worried about his team’s playoff status.
“They’re not going to be the second-best team in the East,” Joerg said.
“If they’re playing their game, they’re going to win games.
We know they can do that.
We just have to continue to execute.”
The Kings are playing with a 2-2 tie after Tuesday’s loss to Toronto.
Sacramento has a four-game losing streak against the Marles.
Injuries have limited Joergers team in games this season that could be pivotal.
“I think this is a tough one to be playing on a team that’s got so many injuries,” Joersger said.
“(I don’t) think we’re too far behind the game, but we’re still a long way off that.”