For the longest time, Mitch Marner was struggling on the Toronto Maple Leafs third and sometimes the fourth line. He was an assist getter, but he was not a “goal scorer”. It seemed as if Mike Babcock was punishing Marner.
From a hockey fan’s perspective, it does not look like Babcock trying to assert Marner as a checking line forward. It is not the Marner is small in terms of general size. Marner is about six-foot and he weighs around 175 pounds. Keep in mind, that is small for a checking line forward. That is why many Leaf fans were left scratching their heads.
In terms of the scouting report, Marner is a dynamic playmaking threat who can also put the puck in the back of the net. That was proven in his rookie year when he scored 19 goals and added 42 assists in 77 games. That did not look like it was going to be the case this year until Mike Babcock put Marner on the second line with Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau. From there Marner has really taken off. He continued his hot play by scoring two goals and netting three assists in Saturday night’s game against the rival Ottawa Senators. Since Marner has made it on the second line, he is really working wonders.
Mitch Marner Boosting The Leafs Second Line
The Leafs second line this year has basically been Patrick Marleau and Nazem Kadri with a special guest. Some games it might be Leo Komarov. Other games it might be James van Riemsdyk. At times the second line has had their struggles. Kadri went on a long goalless drought. Marleau was having a hard time trying to knock the puck into the net. In broader turns, the Leafs second line had blue balls. Then Kadri got his mojo back. Marleau started tipping the pucks the right way. Things started to get back to normal. The second line was being productive no matter who played with them.
Like the smart guy Mike Babcock is, he made Marner earn his minutes playing on the third line. Yeah, he had a nice centreman in Tyler Bozak, the guy that used to centre cheeseburger-eating and hot dog loving winger Phil Kessel, but it seems as if Marner could benefit from playing with players like Marleau and Kadri. One could say that this was the plan all along. Babcock is smart, but sometimes he can make the loyalest of Leaf fans wonder what the is going on. As a beloved Canadian wrestler would say to the doubters, “You just made the list!”
What Happened With Marner?
Well, that is an interesting story. Babs gave the jabroni the go and put Marner on the second line. Where did that get the Leafs so far? Taking their opponents for a trip to the Smackdown Hotel via Know Your Role and Shut Your Mouth Blvd. Drinking a Steveweiser and hitting the stunner wherever these chumps go.
The line has looked darn pretty good. As mentioned earlier, Marner had a five-point night, his highest in his career so far. Marleau got an empty-netter. Kadri looked great. The three of these talented players combined together to make each other all look great.
How Do They Make Each Other Look So Great?
On their own, Patrick Marleau, Nazem Kadri, and Mitch Marner are all good players. Marleau has had a solid career racking up 1111 points in 1550 NHL games. Simply put, Marleau, is a beast of a player. For an “old man”, he has a lot of speed. Not to mention, a great hockey IQ. He can set people up, he can score, and he can teach the young guys a few new tricks. Nazem Kadri is turning into a shutdown centre. He can hit, help open up the ice for his wingers, he can chip in offensively and draw penalties. Match that with Mitch Marner’s playmaking abilities, this line is everything a coach could envision for his second line.
When a team has a line like this, fans are usually drooling. For the love of all things good, this line combined for 10 points in the Leafs game against the Senators. That is something else. For some teams, this line could very well be their top three. It just goes to show how much depth the Maple Leafs have in their top six forwards.
How Could This Second Line Benefit The Leafs Going Forward?
Here is the deal, Marleau, Kadri, and Marner are not going to be scoring all the goals for the team. Nor will they be combining for 10 points on a nightly basis. It is unrealistic to think that. Yes, for sure, they will help the team out. They will score goals. The thing that is so sexy about this line that everyone undervalues is the experience that Mitch Marner will get playing with a top forward like Patrick Marleau. Marleau can help Marner develop into a playmaking superstar like Patrick Kane. The knowledge that Marleau could bestow upon Marner is unimaginable. That is what makes this line so sexy. Even when Marner is not lighting up the scoreboard, he is still learning from one of the best.
The Second Line Is A Friend Of Mine
Everyone in Leafs Nation has given Babcock a hard time about his line choices every now and then, but it seems like the skipper has pleased many by turning the lines into something of a Leaf fan’s dream. Going forward, the team will have a chance to showcase its depth and see what it can do against some of the Eastern Conference’s best teams. Right now, one thing is for sure – the Leafs are blowing their loads and a big reason why is Mitch Marner’s wonder-working on the second line. A Leaf fan can only hope this keeps happening going forward.