Toronto Maple Leafs: Mitch Marner Actually Playing Great

Mitch Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)
Mitch Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens had what I am assuming to be an epic game six last night, but this article was written ahead of time.

The Toronto Maple Leafs headed into this series as massive favorites, and despite being on the road and having to face another team’s fans being in the building, I felt pretty good about things heading into the game.

I wrote yesterday about how Carey Price had saved 97% of the shots the Leafs top line had taken and that they were due for some scoring since a line with Matthews and Marner isn’t likely to be held to 3% shooting for long.

Whatever happened last night (I assume the big line broke out when it counted the most) this remains true.  But I wanted to take it a bit further and highlight how well Mitch Marner has played this series, despite his overall lack of counting stats. (all stats

Mitch Marner in the Playoffs

I think the criticism and frustration people have been exhibiting towards Marner is pretty ridiculous, because all he does is try like hell on every single shift and continually be one of the best players in both the NHL and Toronto Maple Leafs franchise history.

Prior to last night’s game, he had just three points, all assists, in five games.  Considering he had 13 shots and 11 individual scoring chances, those are pretty ridiculous numbers. Marner should have a goal or two at the very least.

Forget production, because it always follows good play,  and the points eventually come.  All you need to know about how a player is playing can be seen from how their team performs when that player is on the ice.

With Marner on the ice, the Leafs have puck possession for 54% of the time.  That’s very, very good. They are getting 62% of the shots, almost most 70% of the dangerous scoring chances, and finish with a ridiculous 65% expected-goals percentage.

Those are numbers of a player that is absolutely dominating.  The narrative that Montreal’s top line shut down the Leafs top line is wrong and lazy.  Montreal’s goalie may have shut down the Leafs top line, but that top line is getting shots and scoring chances at will.

Add in the fact that Marner is the best penalty killer on a prefect unit, and I think you’ve got yourself a viable MVP candidate for the series.  Sure, the puck hasn’t been going, but that is mostly just random bad luck over a short sample.

Next. Leafs Top 10 Prospects. dark

Rest assured Leafs fans, when Mitch Marner is playing this well, it’s only a matter of time before he explodes.  If it didn’t happen last night, it’s bound to in game seven.   And hey, if you can get by round one while your top line is cold, that only makes it harder for whoever you have to play in round two.