After a slow start to the season, Mitch Marner continues to light the lamp for the Toronto Maple Leafs with seven-straight games with a goal.
What a way to head into the All-Star break as the Toronto Maple Leafs were dominant from start to finish beating the New Jersey Devils 7-1.
It was the third-straight game where Toronto’s offence exploded for six or more goals but unlike the last two, they didn’t have to overcome an early deficit. If anything, this was the type of game that was more indicative of what the Leafs are capable of instead of what we saw over the last few weeks.
Front and centre of this dominant stretch have been the play of the Leafs’ top offensive weapons. Auston Matthews was on a goal-scoring tear where he had 10-straight on the road.
Now it’s Mitch Marner who seems to have found his scoring stride as he has lit the lamp in seven-straight games. It seems like there has been a mental shift in his approach to the game especially his decision-making with the puck.
“Usually he’s the passer out there,” said linemate Michael Bunting about Marner to TSN, “but now he’s scoring so that’s really good for us.”
It seems like being on the COVID-19 protocol list provided Marner with the chance to get a mental break from the game. Considering where his game was at the start of the season, it’s hard to find any complaints about how Marner has turned things around.
He’s now at 14 goals and 37 points in 33 games and while most teams will take the benefits of the break, you wonder if Marner wishes that he could continue to add to his streak.
Toronto Maple Leafs still face tough road in Atlantic Division race
Unfortunately, while the Leafs have an impressive .726 points percentage at the midway points of the season, they haven’t been able to make up any ground against the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Leafs have five games on the Panthers and four on the Lightning which is important to keep in mind here but at the same time, neither team is showing any signs of slowing down. Florida is third in the NHL with a .734 points percentage and has scored a league-best 194 (!) goals.
Toronto has three upcoming games against Florida but they won’t be until March 27th, April 5th and April 23rd so basically, it’ll be a challenge for the Blue and White to keep pace until then. If not, the Panthers likely win the division setting up a showdown between the Leafs and Lightning in the first round which is not ideal.
Hopefully, the Leafs find a way to work out some of their kinks on defence and maybe find a way to make improvements at the trade deadline because you can bet their Atlantic Division rivals will do the same.
What do you think about Marner’s place the last few games? Can the Leafs continue their pace of play when they return from the All-Star Game.