We’re about a quarter way through the 2020-21 NHL season and the Toronto Maple Leafs are looking like an absolute juggernaut right now, officially the best team in hockey with a 14-3-2 record and a lot of their success is down to their dynamic duo of Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.
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I penned a piece earlier on how Matthews is on his way to potentially becoming one of the best pure goalscorers in the rich history of the NHL having scored two goals against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday to start the season with 18 goals in 18 games, and the superstar center is rightly claiming a boatload of plaudits for his elite play so far this year.
However, the Maple Leafs have also been powered by the godly performances of Mitch Marner, who is arguably playing the best hockey of his career right now, and it does seem as though he’s living in the shadow of his teammate.
Why is that? Is it it because Matthews is just a more well-known star given his off-ice persona? Or is it because there are some Toronto fans who still lose sleep over Marner’s six-year, $65,408,000 contract? Who knows, but there is no doubt that Mitch Marner deserves more attention given his current exploits.
Let’s not forget about Mitch Marner who is tearing it up for the Toronto Maple Leafs
Now, maybe some will correct us and point out that Mitch Marner is being given more than his fair due but, in a city that is as hockey mad as Toronto is, it just seems to me at least that Auston Matthews is dominating the awards talk right now.
But, when discussing hardware such as the Hart Trophy, which is dished out to the player judged most valuable to his team, Marner should absolutely be included in that conversation given just how much he has meant to the Maple Leafs through the first month or so of the 2020-21 season.
Just go back to Saturday night when it was once again the Matthews and Marner show as the deadly duo combined for seven points on the night as the Leafs beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-3 to improve to 14-3-2 on the year and retain top status in the North Division, with Marner contributing one goal and two assists.
Putting Marner and Matthews together has been a stroke of genius by Toronto Head Coach Sheldon Keefe, if not a little overdue, and not only are the duo having a hell of a lot of fun playing and wreaking havoc together, but they are making a real difference for their team.
That was evident last night when the Maple Leafs were a little lifeless to start the game, limping through the first period until, at 1:03 in the middle frame, Marners fired over a perfect cross-ice pass to Matthews on the power play and the stud center did the rest by unleashing a lethal one-timer past Carey Price.
It sparked the Maple Leafs into life and Marner would add two more points with a goal and an assist to help finish off the Canadiens, and it was a perfect illustration of just how key Marner has been for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Through 19 games this season he has nine goals and 21 assists for 30 points with a plus / minus rating of +17, he’s averaging 22:40 of total ice time, he leads the entire NHL in 5v5 scoring per naturalstattrick.com, and his 3.68 points per 60 minutes of ice-time are a full point more than Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid, which just seems crazy given how good McDavid has been this year.
Marner is also operating at a 1.58 Points Per Game pace right now and there have only been four games all year where the elite winger didn’t get at least one point, so it is no surprise that he’s currently ranked third in scoring in the NHL only behind the aforementioned McDavid and his Oilers teammate
All in all, those are all impressive numbers and they all back up the fact that Mitch Marner is playing at an MVP level right now for the Toronto Maple Leafs and, while some of those numbers may not be sustainable, the confidence the 23-year-old is currently playing with probably is and if he can continue playing at an elite level, then that should ensure that Mitch Marner is much more than just Robin to Auston Matthew’s Batman this season.