Both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Nashville Predators came into 2016-17 looking to jump a level or more in the NHL pecking order. Each team’s seen its share of stumbles.
On Tuesday, there was no mistaking who was having the better night, though. That designation goes to the Maple Leafs and James van Riemsdyk‘s line in particular during a 6-2 smashing of the Predators.
JVR generated the second hat trick of his NHL career – and the first he’s ever generated with the Maple Leafs – and also grabbed an assist in a masterful performance. Those four points also constitute a career-high for van Riemsdyk. (You can see his hat trick in the video above this post’s headline.)
Honestly, the most impressive moment may have come from his linemate, as Mitch Marner scored one of his three points (1G, 2A) via this tally:
The Predators came into Tuesday’s game having won three in a row by a combined score of 11-2. They had also generated at least one standings point (4-0-2) in every November game until running into a brick wall against the Maple Leafs.
Even with Pekka Rinne out with a lower-body injury, there must be a “one step forward, two steps back” feeling for the Predators.
Then again, the Maple Leafs have likely felt that way as well early in 2016-17, so perhaps the silver lining of this lopsided loss is that Nashville should keep at it just like Toronto is doing.