Mitch Marner is finally becoming a shooting threat for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He has always played with a pass-first mentality but is finally starting to shoot more often.
Playing on a line with Auston Matthews makes it easy to be a pass-first type of player. However, if Marner shoots more often, he becomes a threat and opens things up more for Matthews. Since his return from Covid protocol on January 15th, Marner has eight goals and eight assists for 16 points in seven games.
Since returning from injury, Marner has increased his shot rate from under 7 shots per 60 minutes of 5v5 ice time, to over 9.
With Marner shooting more often, the other team’s defense and goaltender will have to think about him more when he has the puck. If Toronto’s opponent over commits to defending Matthews, Marner will benefit with an open shooting lane. When they decide to defend Marner more closely, it creates more space for Matthews. Marner being a shooting threat is a win/win for both players.
Marner’s most productive season was during the 2018-19 season when he registered 26 goals and 68 assists for 94 points in 82 games. He is currently on pace to score 30 goals this season. It would be the first 30 goal season of his career, although most likely only because last year was a shortened season.
(Stats from Hockey-Reference.com)
The Toronto Maple Leafs Looking to Benefit From Marner’s Shooting in Second Half of the Season
The Toronto Maple Leafs will return from the All-Star break sitting five points back of the Tampa Bay Lightning and eight points back of the Florida Panthers in the Atlantic Division. The Leafs have games in hand over both teams. Tampa has played four more games than Toronto, while Florida has played five more.
The standings should look a lot closer once Toronto catches up in games played. It will be a close race to see who finishes 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in the Atlantic Division. One thing that is almost for certain is which four teams from the Atlantic Division will make the Playoffs. Unless the Boston Bruins collapse in the second half, they will join Toronto, Tampa, and Florida.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will need as many scoring threats as they can get in the second half of the season and the playoffs. Toronto fans expect better offensive output from the big four of Marner, Matthews, William Nylander, and John Tavares in this year’s playoffs.
If those four fail to score, it will be another early exit in the first round. With Marner making himself a shooting threat, that should help open things up for him and Matthews. Marner is one of the players that fans seem to hate on the most. If he can have a productive second half and productive playoffs, fans might cool down a little bit.
It is good to see Mitch Marner shooting the puck more often and finding success by doing so. I hope it continues in the second half of the season and the playoffs. He is an important part of Toronto’s offence and our offence needs to produce in the playoffs if they’re to make it out of the first round.