Mitch Marner is back, folks.
The Toronto Maple Leafs forward hasn’t had an ideal start to his sophomore season, but the past two games have reminded everybody just what a potent offensive threat the former London Knights standout can be.
On Wednesday (for the second game in a row) Marner went coast-to-coast and buried an absolutely filthy tally:
BRILLIANCE BY MITCH MARNER! Leafs trying to claw back! pic.twitter.com/KcBfzy6v5g
— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) December 21, 2017
If you believe you’re suffering a mild case of deja vu, don’t overthink it, because you probably are. Marner pulled off a nearly identical end-to-end effort during Tuesday’s matinee game against Carolina:
Mitch Marner pots a beauty and the Arenas are up 2-0! pic.twitter.com/m2Kv7iATUk
— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) December 19, 2017
Despite the loss to Columbus, the Maple Leafs second unit featuring Marner, James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak had arguably their best game of the season, tallying 15 of Toronto’s 37 shots on the night. Although he posted a respectable 18 assists in his first 34 games, Marner was struggling to find the back of the net, scoring just two goals while shooting a measly 3.3 percent over that span.
The 20-year-old’s last two contests, however, have been possibly the best back-to-back games of his career. Tuesday against the Hurricanes, Marner potted a goal and three assists, while posting six shots on goal in just over 13 minutes of ice time. On Wednesday at Columbus, Marner’s gorgeous solo effort highlighted a night where he had a goal and nine shot attempts, giving No. 16 five points in his past two games. He showed visible signs of getting back into his zone with several dominant shifts on the cycle and a noticeable confidence through the neutral zone that seemed to be lacking through the first quarter of the season.
After tallying 19 goals and 61 points in his rookie season, but finding himself on the fourth line and in-and-out of coach Mike Babcock’s doghouse through the early part of 2016-17, Marner’s apparent return to form will be a welcome addition to a Maple Leafs team looking to contend come April.
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