Let’s get one thing out of the way.
Mitch Marner was never supposed to be this good, if you talked to some people.
It’s crazy that we’re talking about a 94-point player in his third year in the league, that came into the NHL with doubts about if he could handle the physicality.
But if you watched Marner put up 126 points in his draft year in 63 games and follow it up with 115 in 57, you’d have no surprise that this kid is something special.
And in this round against Boston, he’s been, well, fine. He’s had some huge moments these playoffs, and got things going early with a two-goal Game 1.
Of course, you remember this, the Leafs’ opening goal of the playoffs.
and this, the penalty shot goal that gave the Leafs a lead they’d never lose.
A Game 1 win on the road, in Boston orchestrated by a 21-year old winger? Is this real life?
Game 2 mostly everyone had a rough night, but Marner came back flying in Game 3. A beautiful secondary assist to Andreas Johnnson to set up Auston Mattthews’ first of the playoffs…
… and some great defensive work at the end that’d make your uncle from Hespeler, Ontario proud.
and hey, we’ve got one more nice assist left in Marner: setting up Matthews again in the third period of Game 4, on the power play once again.
But uh, that’s been it.
Strip it back, we’ve got two points in five playoff games since his big Game 1. And while there are other Leafs that deserve criticism as well, there are few Leafs that can come up to the level of a Mitch Marner.
In those five games, Marner’s been on the ice for 61 5v5 shot attempts by the Leafs. Meanwhile, he’s faced 81 against, which comes out to a less-than-stellar 42.66%. He’s been on the ice for just one goal, and four against. Long story short, he could be much better. We have not seen a single even strength assist from a player who put up 48 this season.
This isn’t the Mitch Marner we know he can be. In last year’s playoffs, Marner led the team with nine points in the seven game series. And you can talk all day about matchups and coverage and luck and all that. He’s been getting outplayed and I’m sure he knows it.
The Leafs have but one opportunity left to salvage their season tomorrow night. If they’re going to make the most of it, their leading scorer will have to come out flying.