Maple Leafs lose Mitch Marner to ankle injury

The Toronto Maple Leafs announced that Mitch Marner will not return to Saturday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers because of an ankle injury.

Marner seemed frustrated while trying to test the ankle, either because he wanted to play through it, or was merely irritated by the tough break … or maybe both. As you can see from the video above and the screencap, it was a very awkward-looking moment.

Here’s hoping it looked worse than it really was, as this would be a tough injury for a Maple Leafs team that’s felt a bit rudderless at times even with Marner healthy. While their 9-5-3 record heading into Saturday’s game against Philly isn’t so bad, there have been enough red flags to feel a little restless, especially for fans who bit their nails through the Marner contract drama in the summer.

The Maple Leafs have already dealt with an injury to John Tavares this summer, so this could continue a bumpy start to 2019-20.

Toronto ended up falling 3-2 to the Flyers via a shootout. Not a ton is known about the extent of Marner’s injury, although he’s been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Blackhawks in Chicago.

This Maple Leafs team is going to need to band together if Marner misses serious time, as their upcoming schedule would be gruesome with or without the shifty playmaker. Note that the lone home game is in bold.

Nov. 10: at Chicago
Nov. 13: at NY Islanders
Nov. 15: vs. Boston
Nov. 16: at Pittsburgh
Nov. 19: at Vegas
Nov. 21: at Arizona
Nov. 23: at Colorado
Nov. 27: at Detroit
Nov. 29: at Buffalo

Yikes, eight of the Maple Leafs’ next nine games are on the road. About the only saving grace is that Toronto only faces one back-to-back set, as they’ve struggled in those situations lately.

Really, things could be bumpy for the next month-plus. From Sunday (Nov. 10) through Dec. 14, the Maple Leafs play only three games at home and 13 on the road. Not good.

Toronto has to hope this Marner issue is minor, although such a tough haul might also increase the temptation to rush him back. The Maple Leafs need to find a delicate balance, not unlike the job of an ankle.

MORE:
• Pro Hockey Talk’s Stanley Cup picks.
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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