The Toronto Maple Leafs will be taking on the St. Louis Blues tonight in St. Louis.
Nick Ritchie is as well, but he likely wouldn’t play if the team was fully healthy.
On the bright side, Mitch Marner and Rasmus Sandin will return to the lineup.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Blues
Marner has just six goals and 21 points in 26 games. Considering that he is coming off two straight seasons where he scored at a 100 point pace, people are concerned that he isn’t playing up to his potential.
They shouldn’t be.
Marner has scored 20 points in his last 19 games, and the Leafs record in those games is 17-2. While most people seem to have gotten over the Leafs collapse last spring vs Montreal, Marner is still taking a disproportionate portion of the blame.
Despite perception, Marner is still playing pretty much the exact same way as he did last year when he posted elite defensive stats to go along with being the NHL’s 2nd highest 5v5 scorer (3rd overall).
Since only McDavid scored more than he did, and since no one else in the NHL who scored as much also provided elite defense, Mitch Marner was one of the best players in the NHL last year. McDavid scored more points, Matthews scored more goals, but that’s it.
I am yet to hear a coherent or reasonable argument that Marner was anything less than the 3rd best player in the NHL last season. One rough playoff series (where the guy who takes most of his passes couldn’t shoot the puck) does not render this irrelevant. (stats naturalstattrick.com).
Last year Marner posted a 57.5 expected-goals percentage, and this year he’s posting a still elite 56.70% rating. Essentially, he’s performing in the exact same way – which is what you’d expect from someone in competition with Nathen McKinnon to be the NHL’s 3rd best player.
The only real difference between Marner last year and this year is shooting percentage, which he can’t control.
The Toronto Maple Leafs play the Blues tonight, and not only will they have Marner back, but they are now the NHL’s best Special Teams team, and they’ll be looking to score some goals after getting extremely unlucky against the Coyotes the other night.
Not only that, but the Blues are missing several players, so expect a beatdown!