Maple Leafs sniper Auston Matthews is going to break scoring records in a shortened season.
The Toronto Maple Leafs star might only get to play in 56 games, but already with 18 goals coming off his stick and counting in just 18 games, he’s likely going to etch his name into the record books if he's able to keep up with the torrid pace he's set through almost a third of the NHL season.
Of course that's a BIG if, but with the way this guy is ripping them right now it seems like pretty much anything is possible.
Bending defensemen to his will, and leaving goalies slack jawed as the pucks are rifled over either shoulder, Matthews is making every single Leafs game something to watch.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) February 21, 2021
Saturday night under the bright lights of the historic rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens, Matthews continued his recent scoring stretch with two more tallies, making it seven goals in the last four games.
While Alexander Ovechkin has his patented scoring placement, sitting with his stick ready to weaponize a puck past the goaltender from the left face-off circle, Matthews scores from basically wherever he pleases. A quick one-timer from down low, from behind the net as he squeaks it past the goal line, he even makes simple odd-man rushes dazzle; the Arizona native just does not let up against anyone.
With all this ability, Matthews does not need the crutch of a power play to get his goals, either. Over the last two seasons, no player has scored more goals at 5-on-5 than the 23-year-old with his 41 tallies — the next best is Ovechkin himself with 11 fewer than the Leafs sniper.
During Ovi’s third year in the league, he was able to score a career-high 65 goals in 82 games. While we’re currently sitting fairly early into his campaign, Matthews’ 18 in 18 is going to make us badly wish they were playing out the full regular season schedule just to see how close he would get to the modern day mark.
It would've been fascinating.
Through his last 82 regular season games, Matthews has scored 59 times. If that stretch was registered as a full NHL season, it would earn him all but two Rocket Richard trophies in the award’s 25-year existence.
Matthews is approaching, if not already claiming, the title as the NHL's best pure scorer and, health pending of course, has a legitimate chance to be among the top four or five best goal-scorers ever when it's all said and done. From a franchise standpoint, he's probably already the best goal-scorer, if not player, to ever suit up for the Maple Leafs.
While he doesn't yet have some of the statlines of past Leafs snipers, such as the franchise-leading 54 goals Rick Vaive buried in the 1981-82 campaign, Matthews got within seven tallies of that mark in seven less games just last season. Franchise legend Mats Sundin leads the team all-time with 420 goals through 981 games played, and his 0.42 goals-per-game mark has been well eclipsed by Matthews’ 0.58 so far.
With years ahead of him, Matthews has already established himself within the franchise’s top 20 goal-scorers of all-time, a feat that should feel impossible with some of the past legends Toronto has boasted.
We are watching hockey history right now and all we can do is sit back and try to soak everything in to eventually tell our grandchildren how great it was watching Auston Matthews beat up on the other Canadian teams for one sweet, glorious season.
Toronto sits atop the North Division with a 14-3-2 record, as Matthews sits atop the goalscoring throne.
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