Marner on Leafs’ progress: We want to battle for division title

Toronto Maple Leafs' Mitch Marner skates through the entire Columbus Blue Jackets team and snipes on Joonas Korpisalo for his fourth goal of the season.

After busting into the NHL with authority last season, compiling 19 goals and 61 points in 77 games as a rookie, Mitch Marner is catching fire once again.

The Toronto Maple Leafs young gun endured a slow start to his 2017-18 campaign, tallying at a clip of 0.50 points per game through the season’s opening month that left him far below 2016-17’s 0.79 pace. He upped that to 0.67 points per game one month later with 10 points through 15 contests in November, however, and took off with a point-per-game pace (13 in 13) in December.

Now on track for another 60-point effort by the season’s end, the 20-year-old said his steady statistical improvement is simply the result of staying the course.

“I think I’m just staying calmer with the puck,” Marner said Friday on Sportsnet 590 The Fan’s Good Show. “But also, at the same time, I think our line in general has been a lot better this past couple weeks. I think we’ve just got to keep building, keep getting better.”

The Markham, Ont., native ranks second in scoring on a Leafs team currently sitting near the top of the Eastern Conference. With 50 points to their name—level with the division rival Boston Bruins, but with four more games under their belt—Toronto looks likely to book themselves a post-season spot once again.

But it seems the young Canadian squad is approaching the latter half of 2017-18 with much loftier expectations.

“We’re happy with our position, obviously. But at the same time, we don’t want to just be happy with the position,” Marner said. “We want to battle for that first position, try and obviously push for that Tampa spot. But it’s going to be important just to try and keep getting better.

“Obviously we’re a young team but at the same time, we can’t have excuses.”

Listen to Marner’s full interview with Ben Ennis and JD Bunkis below:

 
The curious case of Mitch Marner
January 05 2018

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