The Maple Leafs have an unforgettable November

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It was a streak spawned when the Maple Leafs were at a low point, before Mitch Marner lifted himself and the team for what is shaping up to be a record.

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The Maple Leafs’ game against the Sharks on Wednesday will be a far cry from the one in late October in San Jose, when Marner’s goal and assist were overlooked as a terrible road trip through the western United States unfolded. was taking place.

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A few days later, there were calls for trades or perhaps a dismissal to straighten out a team that had lost four in a row in their slow start and gone astray.

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But Marner stayed the course, a blocked shot here, an assist there, lots of on-ice chatter and a few catchy quotes to the press about the sky not falling. And just like that, November became Mitch’s month, hitting all six goals and 17 assists, one point in 17 straight games, one shy of tying the franchise record.

It was hard to avoid Marner’s mania on Tuesday in training.

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« It stays (beep) warm, huh? » enthused Russian goalkeeper Ilya Samsonov, who watched the action from the press box as he recovered from a knee injury. “He’s a nice guy. We’ll see tomorrow (if he ties it up). Why not? »

The Leafs have lost just once in regulation in November while Marner has been on the march (10-1-3).

« I’m just doing my thing, » Marner said of staying focused after his point drive helped in the last four-game road sweep. « Try not to be more superstitious than I already am.

« Contributing is good, but wins are the most important. This trip (in October) wasn’t great, we all know that and we weren’t happy with the way we were playing overall. .

“We changed things up, going back to being quick, all over the puck, getting it out. In the O area, we do a good job getting it off the wall in the middle with some space.

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« We talked about being in no-panic mode, we trust each other and we get it. »

While coach Sheldon Keefe has juggled personnel on every line this season, Marner has been moved from his usual right-wing position with Auston Matthews and Michael Bunting to a new unit with center John Tavares and now Calle Jarnkrok, barely missing a beat.

« It just speaks to his ability, whether it’s 5-on-5, power play, or shorthanded, » Keefe said. « There are times in a streak like this where you need a rebound to go your way, but for sure recently he’s been making some big plays at key times, on the guys at the forward failure.

“These are demanding competitive goals where a lot of work is done without the puck. He’s a dynamic guy and a star first-team player for a reason. He gets full points for that streak and our team took advantage of it.

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Samsonov says he’s ready to play after serving since Nov. 5, but with Matt Murray doing well, Keefe said he won’t start for a few days. After Wednesday, the Leafs have two tougher road assignments in Tampa Bay and Dallas.

Keefe is also keeping defenseman Conor Timmins on reserve, citing the lack of quality practice time since joining the team last week. The play of the six current defensemen, despite the injury of four veterans, remains another pleasant development.

Nick Robertson returns to the lineup, on the right wing with center David Kampf and Zach Aston-Reese, while Wayne Simmonds and Denis Malgin are the likely forfeits on Wednesday.

  1. Maple Leafs Mark Giordano (55) and Calle Jarnkrok (19) knocked down Lucas Raymond of the Red Wings during the second period on Monday, November 28, 2022 in Detroit.

    Marner and the Leafs extend their good streaks

  2. Former Toronto Maple Leaf Borje Salming is honored during a pre-game ceremony before the game between the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on November 11, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Salming, accompanied by his wife Pia, was diagnosed with ALS earlier this year. at Scotiabank Arena on November 12, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

    Tribute to Salming, ALS Wednesday fundraiser

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