5. John Tavares and Top Nine Need to do More
The Toronto Maple Leafs have a ton of great forward options, whether it be on the ice or watching from the suite.
However, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are still carrying most of the weight offensively. John Tavares has been invisible to this point, and William Nylander seems to be snake bitten. Regardless, Sheldon Keefe has to put these two together for the proper one-two punch. Alex Kerfoot isn’t the answer on the second line and should switch with Nylander before game 3.
I have watched both games and I can say that I saw Nylander create a few great chances in the offensive zone. I cannot say the same for Tavares and when he is making 11 million per season, I don’t think that it is too much to ask for him to pick it up a bit. I’m not only talking about points, but also his effort and ability to create chances. He is a former franchise cornerstone, first overall pick, and an OHL “exceptional player”.
But, he is also the captain of the team. As the captain, the team relies on you not just for leadership, but also on-ice performance. For example, Steve Yzerman produced offense with one leg producing 23 points in 23 gams in the 2002 playoffs, Sidney Crosby had created 28 scoring chances when he was on the ice in game 1, Jonathan Toews clawed the Blackhawks to OT with two clutch goals in the third.
These three examples show how captains of Stanley Cup Championship teams play: heart, talent, effort, and poise. Every Stanley Cup winning captain has their moments, and Jonathan Toews was playing with guys who are worse offensively than those Tavares plays with. Tavares has the teammates, the health, and the offensive talent, and he needs to make his mark on the series quick.