TORONTO – Of all of the wild statistics getting bandied about throughout Auston Matthews’ stroll to the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy, one quantity stands proud: 23.
That’s the age of the youngest Toronto Maple Leafs regulars, one of the best gamers on the crew — or arguably any crew exterior of the Edmonton Oilers, for that matter.
Possibly it’s as a result of Toronto is already deep into 12 months 5 of the Matthews–Mitch Marner period, and that 4 years of post-season disappointment wore arduous on a deeply scarred devoted, that followers would possibly neglect that these are nonetheless large youngsters coming into their very own.
No surprise a childlike pleasure has permeated by way of this explosive season, Matthews and Marner’s first as everlasting linemates.
The Leafs have basically led Canada wire to wire, their 5-1 romp Saturday over a depleted and defeated Vancouver Canucks squad extending their newest win streak to 5.
Toronto has outscored opponents 22-7 over its newest heater, and Matthews has registered the membership’s previous three game-winners, bringing his NHL-leading whole to 12.
“Pleased birthday, Dad,” Matthews smiled huge post-game.
Tonight, one of the best shooter in hockey will ring Brian Matthews tonight, like he does after each match.
“He’s straightforward,” Matthews mentioned. “We simply kinda B.S., I assume, and discuss concerning the sport a bit. I’m positive he’s having fun with today with the win and a pair targets.”
The targets have develop into as routine because the telephone calls.
Marner was requested post-game if it appears like his centreman is on the verge of scoring each time the puck is on his tape.
He thought for a beat.
“Effectively, no,” Marner replied. “I imply, if he is within the D-zone, I do not suppose so.”
But Matthews’ first purpose on Saturday started with him profitable a D-zone draw and triggering a rush up-ice. New left winger Nick Foligno went arduous for a forecheck to get the puck to Marner (and collect his fourth help in 4 video games), and Marner put the factor on Matthews’ blade.
Wrist energy intact, Matthews has scored 17 occasions in his previous 17 video games. He has 38 on the season, buzzing alongside at a 0.81 goals-per-game tempo.
Over 82 video games performed, that will give him 66.
“I am simply having fun with watching it now, what he is doing. Irrespective of what number of video games we’re enjoying, he is feeling it,” coach Sheldon Keefe mentioned. “The chemistry between [him] and Mitch is clear. He went by way of a troublesome stretch the place he battled by way of accidents and stuff like that and he is clearly feeling higher, and also you’re seeing the outcomes.”
The final participant to win the Rocket with 66 targets is nobody. Not even shut. The award wasn’t invented when superstars have been lighting lamps at Matthews’ present tempo.
You need to flip again to ’90s-era Mario Lemieux to match this sort of effectivity, and when you have been to regulate for period or take a look at his even-strength manufacturing, Matthews’ tear would look much more spectacular.
With regards to purpose scoring in brief NHL seasons, Matthews has jumped onto a leaderboard with names like Dit Clapper, Cooney Weiland and Babe Dye. That is the extent of historical past we’re speaking:
“It is unbelievable. He is positively a one-of-a-kind participant. You see the way in which he shoots the puck and makes performs, it is large,” mentioned Alex Galchenyuk, who received to know Matthews after they skilled collectively throughout some non-public Arizona classes within the low season.
“He is an excellent human, actually easy-going. So, an excellent man to be round with. He is having loads of enjoyable on the ice, and it is the identical manner off the ice.”
Matthews deserves the Hart trophy.
Change my thoughts!
— Eddie Lack(@eddielack) May 2, 2021
At even-strength, Matthews and Marner have mixed for extra targets (46) and factors (97) than another duo within the sport.
Marner registered his seventeenth multi-point outing of the season on Saturday and was left, as he so typically is, to be topped second star.
Twice this week, shoot-first Matthews tried passing a number of the love he’s attending to one of the best wingman he’s had.
“I do not know if he will get actually sufficient credit score with what he is been doing this 12 months and the form of participant that he’s and individual,” Matthews mentioned. “He is only a blast to play with, and I believe we each complement one another nicely.
“Irrespective of who’s enjoying with us, I believe each man has slot in fairly nicely. We simply attempt to go on the market and compete and make performs. Clearly, the top purpose is to win video games and put the puck within the internet. He is been enjoying superior, and it has been a blast enjoying with him.”
Once more, we’re speaking about 23-year-olds.
Sure, they’re rolling at their finest.
However higher would possibly nonetheless lie forward.