Coach Knoblauch and Mitch Marner explain the difference between Leafs and Oilers

Liam McCormick
January 18, 2024  (10:03)

Oilers Coach Knoblauch answering questions for the media.
Photo credit: NHL.com

On Tuesday night, the Maple Leafs visited the Oilers for a marquee matchup between the two Canadian rivals, at a time when the two teams are trending in opposite directions. The Oilers took the victory, their eleventh straight win, and the Leafs blew another multi-goal lead to lose their fourth straight game. After the game, Oilers' Coach Knoblauch and Mitch Marner's comments perfectly encapsulates the difference between the Oilers and Leafs.

When Coach Knoblauch was asked about the state of the team, his answer proved that he was hungry to win, to adapt, and to keep the team's foot on the gas at all times.
We're not happy wih anything right now. There's times throughout the season where something is going to be really good and something is going to be neglected. Right now, I think we're very happy with the team defence. I think guys are committed, checking, we're moving our feet — forwards and defencemen, and when there's breakdowns, our goalies have played really well. But, we're starting to slip and having more breakdowns than we typically like. We will correct those.

Even as the team wins their eleventh straight game, Knoblauch has identified concerning patterns to correct them before they cost the team. The Oilers are trying to recognize their flaws and work on them to improve the team as a whole.
On the other hand, Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner showcased exactly why the Leafs only ever peak as a good regular season team, and how much different they are from the Oilers. Instead of recognizing the recent downturn in play from the Leafs and himself, Marner insists that the team is doing fantastic, and they're trying to shut out the ‘outside noise'. After the game, Marner said the following:
We gotta ignore what everyone else says. We know we're a great hockey team. We show up every night. I mean, this last four games that we've had leads, we've played some awesome hockey, some great hockey.

It's clear that Marner and the Leafs lack the mental strength to be able to identifying and correct their own flaws. For whatever reason, the Leafs stars insist they're playing ‘awesome' while repeating the same mistakes - something that Knoblauch and the Oilers stars clearly wouldn't stand for.
Right now, as the two teams trend in complete opposite directions, the difference that separates them is their mental toughness and ability to adapt to weaknesses, instead of being overwhelmed and trying to maintain their egos. These two quotes from Knoblauch and Marner perfectly sum up the differences.
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Coach Knoblauch and Mitch Marner explain the difference between Leafs and Oilers

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