Mitch Marner scored his first playoff goal since 2019 in the Maple Leafs 5-0 rout of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and while the Toronto forward has been the subject of scrutiny after recent playoff exits, his tally and performance in Game 1 suggest his postseason demons may have been exorcised.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Mitch Marner has exorcised his playoff demons. Is that an overreaction?
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: No, he has.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: That goal was big. That was a huge, huge, huge goal.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: The chain swinging as he scored that. That's one of the most swaggy goals I've seen in the playoffs.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: I mean, he needed that-- he needed that so, so badly. And I think, honestly, it's not just that. Like, that's the thing that I think he stews over, the fact that he doesn't score. Like, I literally think he tried to change his game.
"I'm not scoring enough goals." And he's, like, "I want to score more. I want to be that player," when really you're such a talented offensive player, you don't need to do that. But I feel like all that noise would get to a player like Marner. He silenced the noise before it could begin with that goal and three points.
But his importance-- and it was written all over that game-- goes well beyond goal scoring and production. Him and David Kampf on that number-one penalty kill, there was no more important tandem or sequence or whatever than those two players on that power play for the Tampa Bay Lightning. This guy does everything for the Leafs. And the fact that he could get that monkey off his back should liberate him. I think he's exorcised his demons, and he should be the Mitch Marner that we expect throughout this entire series.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: OK. So we know that is-- so I think, Cuthbert, you've said enough.