Knee Jerk Reaction: Mitch Marner makes his all-star case

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
1 month ago
Fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs have rightfully spent the past 24 hours tweeting #NHLAllStarVote William Nylander (which, by the way, go do that) in the wake of the team leader in points signing an eight-year extension with the team. And the funniest part about tonight’s game is that despite Nylander’s three-assist effort, he wasn’t even the Leafs’ best all-star contender.
Mitch Marner scored two goals, including a filthy tip from noted offensive juggernaut Jake McCabe (1G, 2A) to extend the Leafs’ lead to 3-0, and added two assists to bring him up to 44 points in 38 games on the season. While he hasn’t made as much noise as Nylander and Matthews this year, it’s usually around January when he starts to remind people that there’s a reason they call it the core four. 
In 2022-23, Marner tallied 53 points through 37 games between January and March, in comparison to 42 in 37 between October and December. The year before, he put up 58 points in 34 games from January to March after struggling through October but picking it up over the next few months to finish with 21 in the first 24 games of the season. If history repeats itself, Marner’s about to put on a show offensively, 
It’s refreshing to know that while one player is hogging all of the spotlight, the other can come out, do his thing, and reiterate how much top-end talent this team has. Sure, it was against the league-worst San Jose Sharks. But how often in the past have we talked about the Maple Leafs’ issues with playing down to their opponents? A performance like this is precisely what should be expected out of this team, and after tonight’s 7-1 stomping, I can say with confidence the team played a perfect game. 

Other thoughts: 

  • To build off of that last point a little bit, there’s something to be said about the fact that the Leafs faced off against a historically bad Sharks team staring down the barrel of their 11th and 12th losses of the season, and promptly beat them 4-1 and 7-1. Tell me that at least one of those games and maybe both of them didn’t feel like scheduled losses. Maybe this team is different.
  • Pontus Holmberg scored what was probably the nastiest goal by a Leaf of the season so far. I’m just going to let the video below do the talking.
  • 34-year-old Martin Jones continued his dip into the fountain of youth, collecting his fourth straight win and his fifth straight game allowing two goals or less. It’s becoming more and more apparent each day that they can’t risk sending him back through waivers even if they feel like Ilya Samsonov is ready, but right now you’d almost want to ride with him until he falters. 
What’s your knee-jerk reaction to tonight’s game? Let us know below.

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