Maple Leafs: No One Has Been as Due As Auston Matthews Is Now

Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)
Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports) /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs are down 1-0 in their best of seven first round series against arch rival the Montreal Canadiens. 

The Toronto Maple Leafs went down on Thursday night despite killing five penalties and getting an excellent playoff debut from Jack Campbell.  Though the injury to team captain John Tavares all but ruined the first night of the playoffs, the team did well in response and more or less dominated the rest of the game at 5v5.

Despite the injury, the power-plays and the shorty, the Habs still needed a 5 Star Performance from Carey Price to seal the win.  He robbed Mitch Marner of the tying goal and posted a .972 save percentage.  The Leafs (especially Matthews who had eight shots, and Nylander who played like a man possessed) were just snake bitten offensively for the sixth straight game.

I wrote earlier today about how they are going to break out, but here’s another reason way:

Auston Matthews Is Long, Long, Long Overdue

In the Toronto Maple Leafs last six playoff games, Auston Matthews has just two goals, and just one of them 5v5.

For his career, Matthews averages 3.57 goals per six games – which means he’s scoring at 50% his normal pace.  Now, this wouldn’t be too concerning, but the Leafs have lost four of these six games. (All stats naturalstattrick.com).

Additionally, this season during the period of time when Matthews couldn’t shoot the puck, the Leafs had six of their 13 regulation losses.  He scored damn near a goal per game in every other game. Games in which the Leafs had, by far, the highest points percentage in the NHL.

Ergo, if Matthews scores the Leafs have about a 75% chance of winning.

Besides just having one 5v5 goal in the last six games (despite, as James Mirtle pointed out this week, leading the second highest 5v5 goal scorer over the last two seasons by 30%), the Leafs power-play has been a complete joke for almost two months now.

The peripheral numbers on the PP are decent, and the Leafs are just having a weird statistical run more than anything else.  After a while, they probably started to get a bit psyched out, but one night soon they’ll score a few power-play goals and go on a run – it’s how these things always work.

Over the last six playoff games, Matthews has 35 shots and is shooting 5.7% despite getting eight individual high-danger scoring chances, and 29 scoring chances overall.   His career shooting percentage is around 17% and again, he has 30% more 5v5 goals than anyone else in the NHL over the last two years.

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The Toronto Maple Leafs will be fine because Auston Matthews is well overdue for a couple big games.