A man who’s first name translates to “gift from God”.
If you asked any London Knight in the dressing room after game three Tuesday night, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who thinks he didn’t live up to his name.
The Knights took a stranglehold 3-0 lead in their first round series against Kitchener via a 10-6 victory on Tuesday. Marner had his hands in on six of those goals. Two goals and four assists on the evening to be exact.
Marner had nine points in nine playoff games last year, and this year he’s made a point-per-game pace look like child’s play. With his six points Tuesday night he now has 12 points in his first three games, scoring at least two goals in every contest. He’s made the league’s best goaltender in Jake Paterson look like Swiss cheese every single game.
It’s almost scary how good he’s playing right now. How scary? Marner has more points (12) than both Connor McDavid and Dylan Strome combined. They finished 1st and 3rd (on each side of Marner) in the OHL scoring race.
If Marner continues to dominate, and the Erie Otters continue to struggle
(and by struggle, I mean win without absolutely blowing teams out of the water), it’s very likely he’ll raise his draft stock over OHL scoring title winner Dylan Strome. He could possibly even pass Boston College defensive prodigy Noah Hanifin, and land in the 3rd overall pick slot. If this draft didn’t have two generational talents in Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, Marner would be a good bet for first overall in a normal draft. On a side note, that’s just how crazy good this draft is.
But we have to remember Mitch Marner isn’t the only one pulling his weight. This is truly a team effort.
In games one and two, rookie goaltender Tyler Parsons stood on his head. He made 76 saves across the two games, letting in just three goals in total. Yes, this game he let in six, which is far from pretty for a win, but he still made 35 saves. Jake Paterson was in net for nine goals against on 33 shots faced (the 10th being an empty netter).
The Knights depth lines have also been playing exactly how coach Dale Hunter wants them to. By hitting everything that moves, doing anything and everything they can to get under the Rangers skin, and by fore-checking like the puck is a TurboMan lottery ball… if you’re into Christmas movies featuring big Austrian guys
called Jingle All the Way. And if you aren’t, you still get the picture. The dump-and-chase effort from these guys (specifically St. Louis Blues pick C.J. Yakimowicz) is barbaric. The compete level is championship quality, and in a year where the Knights aren’t as stacked as they normally are, it’s the biggest reason they’ll have a shot at a fourth consecutive Memorial Cup invite.
Victor Mete is playing above his age in his rookie playoff run. He recorded five assists on Tuesday night, making that six in three games. His ability to rush the puck with blinding speed and create open ice is becoming more and more relevant every game.
Surprisingly enough, Max Domi hasn’t caught fire like some of his teammates have. Don’t get me wrong, the Knights captain has a respectable four points over the three games, but he hasn’t been absolutely lighting it up either. I think that’s forgiven by his highlight reel shorthanded goal in game two. YouTube that one. To cap off Domi’s section here, his intensity is still very present. He is very much a large contributor to the success of his team thus far.
The Knights will have the chance to seep the Rangers in Kitchener on Thursday night, but thinking this series is already closed is not wise for this hot London team. Stay the course, and you’ll play a lot less games – in a good way – than you’ll need to.