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Thursday’s FTB: War between two league leaders

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Will Connor McDavid have a meltdown of his own?

Edmonton Oilers v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images

Mitch Marner and Connor McDavid head into this next pair of games tied for the league lead in points. When we were knee-deep in the Marner respect backstory, we learned of how the two GTA-born stars grew up playing with and against each other. But with the skillset McDavid had, he usually drew the bigger crowd.

That didn’t change in major junior either as both were destroyers on their respective clubs in the regular season and playoffs. McDavid and Marner are 3rd and 6th respectively in the having the most points in a single OHL playoff run with 49 in 20 games, and 44 in 16 games. And after all that, they sit on top of the NHL with 5 goals and 7 assists apiece.

McDavid is McDavid and there should never be a surprise if he’s on the top of any leaderboard. On the other hand, Marner is doing two things so far this season.

  1. Trying to justify his double-digit cap-hit of $10.903 million AND
  2. Proving Kyle Dubas right

Last season, Dubas came to Marner’s defence in terms of all the criticism. He also shared the organization’s hopes for the 23-year-old.

If Mitch Marner is the player he has been and continues to grow and mature and do what every player that goes from 22 to 23 to 24 to 25 does and just get better and better, we’d be thrilled.

Seeing his level of play improve each game is a step in the right direction of that goal, points aside.

Eyes are going to be on Matthews tonight and how he fairs against McDavid as both are the faces of the league. But it could also be an opportunity for Marner to stand out. Perhaps we’ll have a sole league leader after tonight’s game.

Jimmy Rutherford retires

Aside from it not being for health reasons, we also know that he wasn’t pushed out. This was Rutherford’s decision and it seems to be one that came a couple of months earlier than its intended due date as the veteran GM was in the final year of his contract with Pittsburgh.

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