Auston Matthews and William Nylander have had more than a few moments of carrying the Toronto Maple Leafs over the first months of the season.
The Toronto Maple Leafs best player announced his presence early in the year with back-to-back hat tricks. For good measure he added a third one, against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 4th. That start and a recent hot streak have propelled him to the top of this season's goal-scoring list in search of another Rocket Richard Trophy.
Nylander started his year with a record-setting consecutive game-point streak. A brief three-game pointless streak followed before Nylander piled up points in the next twelve consecutive games. He is on pace for a career-best season as he seeks a new contract extension.
Mitch Marner, unlike his fellow superstars, has yet to put the team on his back for an extended time.
The Toronto Maple Leafs Could Use a Boost From Mitch Marner
First, let's make it clear that Marner should not be blamed for what ails the Leafs. He has had moments of flashing his extraordinary skill and vision.
Back-to-back 4-point games against the Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning, a hat trick plus the shootout winner against the Seattle Kraken, and two goals plus an assist in a signature win against the New York Rangers are the individual highlights of Marner's season.
Certainly, he had his share of dominating performances.
Marner's season in its entirety, however, has lacked consistency.
While Matthews and Nylander bolted out of the starting blocks, Marner had 8 points in 9 games during October. He had 15 points in 12 games during November, but 13 of those points came over 4 games. In the remaining 8 games, he managed only 2 points. (All statistics courtesy of espn.com)
The month of December, thus far, has been similar to November. To this point, Marner has 13 points in 11 games. 10 of those points were accumulated in four games, meaning 3 points were scored over the other seven games.
Through thirty-two games played before Saturday's game against the Blue Jackets, Marner has 13 goals and 23 assists for 36 points. This puts Marner just inside the top 25 league scorers, slightly below expectations.
Projecting those numbers over 82 games, Marner is on pace for 33 goals, 59 assists, and 92 points. Marner's average NHL season, before this year, 28 goals, 62 assists, and 89 points.
Marner's play has been just fine, but he has not had the consistency of Nylander or the dominance of Matthews.
The Toronto Maple Leafs would love their trio of stars to put it together at the same time.
The good news is that most of his advanced stats are similar to prior seasons. With some good fortune, a Marner hot streak might be just around the corner.