Toronto Maple Leafs Auston Matthews Likely to Miss Out on Making History

Toronto Maple Leafs - Auston Matthews #34 (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs - Auston Matthews #34 (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

In these uncertain times, the NHL may not finish the season. This would impact Auston Matthews’s chase to break a Toronto Maple Leafs record.

When the Toronto Maple Leafs played on March 10, they walked away from Scotiabank Arena feeling good after beating the Tampa Bay Lightning. In that game, Auston Matthews scored his 47th goal of the season. That may have potentially been the last game the Leafs play this season.

With 12 games remaining on the schedule, Matthews had the chance to make history. If the NHL doesn’t play those final games, it could rob the Leafs leading scorer from that opportunity.

Matthews is one of two players on the Maple Leafs to have played all 70 games of the season. The other is defenseman Tyson Barrie. In those games, Matthews collected 47 goals and 33 assists for a total of 80 points. When he wasn’t busy setting up jokes online, Matthews was putting the puck in the net. He did it so well that he was on pace to set new records.

Toronto Maple Leafs and Auston Matthews

If the season wasn’t interrupted, Matthews was on pace to become just the fourth Maple Leafs player in history to pot 50 goals in a single campaign. It’s a marker that has only been achieved five times before.

Rick Vaive, Gary Leeman, and Dave Andreychuk were the previous Leafs to etch their names in the history book by reaching the half-century mark. The most came off the stick of the franchise’s captain from 1982-86, Vaive. He scored 54 in 1981-82 at age 22. That was the first of three consecutive years where he surpassed 50. In his next two seasons, he recorded 51 and 52.

Coincidently, Matthews is currently 22 years old. Leeman was 25 when he scored 51 goals in 1989-90. Leeman’s second-highest total came a year earlier when he put in just 32. It made his 51 total that much more impressive.

Andreychuk also scored 54 in his first year with the Leafs. The difference is that he didn’t spend the entire season with Toronto. Andreychuk was acquired by the Leafs in February of 1993. They picked him up from the Buffalo Sabres in the same deal that saw the Buds ship out goaltender Grant Fuhr. One year later, Andreychuk, at age 30, put the puck past opposing goalies 53 times.

Last season, Matthews wasn’t anywhere near as close to hitting milestone number 50. In 68 games he had 37 goals. That was good enough for 0.54 goals per game. This year his pace was much better with 0.67 goals per game. Even when he put in 40 in his rookie year, Matthews’s pace was 0.48 per contest. Clearly, this was Matthews’s best shot at catching and surpassing Vaive’s record.

Vaive ranks fifth on the franchise’s all-time goal-scoring leaderboard with 299 goals. Mats Sundin is the all-time record holder. In his 13 years with Toronto, he had 420 goals. Matthews is on his way for this record too, as he’s up to 158 goals in his first five years.

There is a chance that the Leafs sniper can still make history if the NHL decides on finishing the regular season. Time will tell whether he gets that chance.

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No matter what happens with the NHL season, Matthews should be proud of what he has managed to accomplish this season. It’s an impressive campaign that he can hopefully replicate in the future.