Maple Leafs' Mitch Mana can still have a career - Sports1
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Maple Leafs’ Mitch Mana can still have a career

Before the season started, we predicted that Mitch Manner would have a career in the 2021-22 season. Well, so far, that’s not the case. Instead, he won’t even play tonight against the Colorado Avalanche after testing positive and entering the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.

But that wasn’t his only problem this season. A crazy practice break-in (literally) Along with his friend and teammate Jake Muzzin, Marner is placed on the LTIR and he won’t be able to return until January 1, 2022.

related: Mitch Marner proves most valuable in Maple Leafs core four

Even before that, Mana wasn’t even keeping up with the per-game rhythm he’s built over the past few seasons. However, we believe he can still have a pro season. In this article, we’ll share why.

Our offseason predictions for Mana

in our pre-June post, we wrote that Mana was a smart player with an extraordinary vision. He is also a hard worker and we are confident that he will internalize the criticism he has received over the past few seasons and turn it into an inner drive to make himself better.

Mitch Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Owen /hockey writer)

We all believe he will play better next season than he has in the past.As we wrote that article, we envisioned both Auston Matthews Mana will sit with the coaching staff Sheldon Keefe Before the season started, they started watching movies and working together on what they could do as a duo to overcome their opponent’s defensive efforts.

related: Worst first-round pick in NHL history

We all believe they are smart enough and motivated enough to do so. They certainly have enough confidence to believe in themselves and enough will to make it happen. These are attributes we think any team’s star should have. We see both Marner and Matthews angry, frustrated, motivated and skilled. We believe these traits will be leveraged into a better season and playoffs.

Team better than expected so far, but not Marner

So far, things have not worked out as expected in two respects. First off, we’re sure most Maple Leafs fans will admit, skeptical of this ability This year’s team won the championship before the season started. That skepticism has been replaced by confidence that the team can make the playoffs. However, the skepticism and pessimism about the playoffs that plagued all Maple Leafs fans didn’t dissipate.

Toronto Maple Leafs Mitch Marner
Toronto Maple Leafs Mitch Marner (The Canadian Press/Christopher Katsarov)

Second, we believe Mana will have a better season than him. Perhaps, he was troubled by the team’s slow start. Maybe injured. However, it’s a safe bet that Mana’s season hasn’t gone as smoothly as most expected.

Mana’s 2021-22 regular season so far

Here’s a breakdown of Mana’s season so far.

For starters, Mana, who has scored just one point in his first seven games, assisted William Nylander’s goal in a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 13. In those games, he also scored a minus-4. He was three points in the team’s 5-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Oct. 22.

Second, Mana then caught fire. He scored 12 points (3 goals and 9 assists) in the next five games. The team won all five games. In the process, Mana scored four points in a 5-3 win over the Boston Bruins on Nov. 6.

related: Time, age may be catching up with capital

Third, Mana has 8 points in the next 11 games. After 24 games, he has 6 goals and 15 assists (21 points) in those 24 games.

Fourth, as mentioned earlier, on December 3, Marner was involved in a collision with Muzzin. The resulting injury sent Mana into LTIR, where he missed six games. He returned to action on Jan. 1, but has since gone two games scoreless.

Fifth, yesterday Marner received news that he and Pierre Engvall had tested positive for Covid-19. Both were then placed on five-day COVID-19 NHL agreements, meaning they will miss their next three games against the Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights and Arizona Coyotes.

Where Manner will stand after Arizona Maple Leafs game

After the Arizona Maple Leafs game, after 35 games, Mana will miss nine games due to injury and COVID. So far, if he stays healthy, his scoring speed could allow him to have 17 goals, 42 assists and 59 points by the end of the season. That would make the 2021-22 regular season the worst of Mana’s career.

Toronto Maple Leafs Mitch Marner Morgan Rielly
Toronto Maple Leafs Mitch Marner celebrates with teammate Morgan Rielly (Canadian Media/Fred Thornhill)

Having seen Mana average over 1 point per game over the past three seasons (1.13 to be exact), we fully expect him to be healthy and improve his projected goals and scoring totals by the end of the season. He is so talented. Needless to say, however, this season hasn’t been as good as any of us expected — and that probably includes Mana himself.

why it doesn’t matter

But, that’s the way it is. If Mana improves in May or even June this year and he helps the team survive the playoffs, his poor regular-season numbers won’t matter. As most Maple Leafs fans will tell you, the success of this franchise will depend entirely on its playoff performance.

related: Maple Leafs News and Rumors: Matthews, Mana, Bunting and Mikheev

To be a pro season, Mitch Marner has to be at his best in the playoffs. If he can put it together — when it matters most to Maple Leafs fans — the rest of the season will be meaningless.

[Note: I want to thank long-time Maple Leafs’ fan Stan Smith for collaborating with me on this post. Stan’s Facebook profile can be found here.]

old professor

Senior Professor (Jim Parsons, Sr.) has taught for over 40 years in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. He is a Canadian boy with two degrees from the University of Kentucky and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas. He is now retired on Vancouver Island, where he lives with his family. His hobbies include playing his hockey card and simply being a sports fan – hockey, Toronto Raptors and CFL football (think Ricky Ray is the embodiment of how a professional athlete should behave).

If you’re wondering why he doesn’t use his real name, it’s because his son — also Jim Parsons — is hockey writer First and ask Jim Sr. to use another name so readers don’t confuse their work.

Since Jim Sr. worked in China, he adopted Mandarin to mean teacher (teacher). The first character lǎo (old) means “old” and the second character shī (teacher) means “teacher”. The literal translation of lǎoshī is “old teacher”. This became his pen name.Today, except for hockey writer, he teaches graduate research design at several Canadian universities.

He looks forward to sharing his insights on the Toronto Maple Leafs and how sports can be more fully integrated into life. His twitter address is https://twitter.com/TheOldProf


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