Because another trade could happen at any moment (right now even!), and we want to ensure that you can read this story all day in peace, the Monday Morning Leafs Report will be a (mostly) trade deadline-free zone this week.
We’ll have plenty of coverage of what goes down for Kyle Dubas and the Leafs elsewhere, including a look into the additions of Nick Foligno, Riley Nash, and David Rittich, if you missed it over the weekend. But for MMLR purposes, we’re focusing on the Leafs players we know.
Onto the show!
Remarkable but true: During his first three seasons, Mitch Marner set up exactly two of Auston Matthews’ 84 even-strength goals. One less, in other words, than Marner managed on Saturday night alone when his chemistry with the greatest goal scorer on the planet right now boiled over in the Leafs’ win over the Senators.
That Marner and Matthews were kept apart during the early years of their careers isn’t news, obviously, but it’s worth revisiting now as a means of peering into the future. A partnership like this has the potential to cause all kinds of damage when it matters most — in the postseason. And up until December 2019, Marner and Matthews had gotten only scraps together at even strength.
Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews
Today, they may be the scariest combination in hockey.
“It’s pretty incredible,” Alex Galchenyuk said of their chemistry, “probably one of the best (duos) in the league right now — the way they move around and find each other out there, (it) was great to watch.”
Marner has had a hand in 14 of Matthews’ 22 even-strength goals this season (64 percent) — and 19 of 31 goals overall (61 percent). He seems to know where his tag-team partner is on the ice at all times, even when it appears that he’s not looking.
Marner seeks out opportunities to get Matthews the puck any chance he gets (sometimes overly so). Matthews pounces on those looks more often than not, with his shot now back to full strength following a prolonged stretch of right wrist trouble.
Matthews has scored 10 goals in his last eight games. Marner has set up six of them.