Locked On Leafs: Midterm Marks: The Leafs have had their fair share of ups and downs
On offence, the Leafs lead the big four: Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and William Nylander. These players are experiencing slightly lower production, with the exception of Nylander, who has had a break-out season so far.
Nylander is on pace for a record year in goals and assists, leading his team in scoring and, on some nights, carrying them on his back. He had career highs in both goals and assists last season, too, meaning he continues to improve himself as a player and silence his critics.
If Nylander is the Leafs’ mid-season MVP, Marner is a close second. Marner has seen many successes this season. As an example, Marner broke the Leafs’ record for the longest point-scoring streak, spanning a whopping 23 games—the longest of any Leaf player in the entire 105-year history of the club. When the Leafs need to kill off penalties, they rely on his defensive short-handed plays.
As for Matthews, last season he rewrote the record books by scoring 60 goals and bringing home many awards including League MVP. This season has been a bit different for Matthews, however.
Matthews has not been able to score at his normal pace. Luckily, his standard of play is so high that anything slightly below it still makes him one of the best players in the league. He has also improved his defence, a strength for him last season, and became a better playmaker in the way he countlessly set up his teammates, especially Nylander, to score so much this season.
Lastly, John Tavares, the captain of the Leafs, continues his steady offensive production. To start off the season, Tavares put up offensive numbers most players only dream of. But that quality of play was unsustainable. Since then, his numbers have lowered. That isn’t to say Tavares hasn’t played well this season. Even at his age, Tavares continues to lead by example, put up steady points, and rally his team together.
Overall, the Leafs have played extremely well up until this point in the season—offensively, defensively, and even in terms of goaltending. “Each player on the Maple Leafs has been pulling their weight, which is part of the reason why they’ve been so successful this season, because the game of hockey is a team effort,” says die-hard Leafs’ fan Daanish Alvi, a fourth-year student in the Technology, Coding and Society program.
The team has hovered around third or fourth in league standings but may become a top-five team in the NHL if it wins itself out of the currently non-scheduled first round of the 2023 playoffs.
Locked on Leafs Columnist (Volume 48 & 49) — Omar is in his fourth year at UTM, working towards completing a major in CCIT and double minors in Political Science and Anthropology. Omar loves to keep up with various sports teams, his favourite being the Toronto Maple Leafs. When he isn’t stressing over exams or the Leafs you can find him watching movies, looking at shoes he can only hope to afford, and trying his best to avoid parking tickets on campus.