Maple Leafs need to ride Mitch Marner during hot streak

TORONTO,ON - DECEMBER 19: Mitchell Marner
TORONTO,ON - DECEMBER 19: Mitchell Marner /

The Toronto Maple Leafs got another strong performance from Mitch Marner, and it is time that he starts to get more opportunities with Auston Matthews out.

There is no forward on the Toronto Maple Leafs that has been more impressive than Mitch Marner lately. After struggling to start the season, the 20-year-old is riding a hot-streak with six points in his last four games after a four-point game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

He followed up that performance with a dominant performance and one his nicest goals as a member of the Leafs.

Just how dominant was Marner against the Blue Jackets? He had a CF percentage of 80.56 while James van Riemsdyk was second on the team at 79.49 and Bozak third at 75.68. Granted, that line had a lot of starts in the offensive zone but that line generated 15 shots on goal.

Despite the strong performance, the Leafs only played Marner 17:37 for the whole game behind Zach Hyman, Patrick Marleau and van Riemsdyk for ice-time among forwards. That should not happen especially if the Leafs are trailing in the game.

If Auston Matthews was not injured and the Leafs were in a similar situation, he would be double shifted as much as possible and for good reason. The best player in the game should get as many opportunities to turn the momentum in the game around, so why wasn’t Marner played more?

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He played 16:28 at even strength while Hyman played 15:55, out of the two players, Marner is the one who tends to generate more offence but he only played just over 30 second more at even strength.

Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos spoke about this on the Starting Lineup  where he thinks Babcock should have been playing the hot hand in Marner rather than spread out the shifts like he did.

If anything the Leafs should have looked at how Marner and William Nylander were playing and consider having them out together especially when the team was down 3-1. At that point, the team needed to get back into the game and while both are not the best defensive forwards, the team has no lead to defend.

With no clear indication of when Matthews’ is returning, this is the time to have Marner and Nylander be the focal point of the offence. The past couple of games have shown that Marner is turning things around and Nylander is not too far behind and Babcock needs to do whatever he can to capitalize on it, rather than limit it.

Next: Babcock's trust hard to gain easy to keep

What have you thought about Marner’s play recently? Should he be given more ice time? Let us know in the comments below.