The Toronto Maple Leafs are near the top of the NHL standings.
Not only are the Toronto Maple Leafs at the top of the standings, but they’re playing a consistent brand of hockey that has no real weaknesses – they’ve got goaltending, defense, scoring and special teams all rolling.
Well, maybe the defense still occasionally leaves a little bit to be desired, but this team is so obviously headed for great things it’s hard to complain about that, even.
But one thing is bugging me
Toronto Maple Leafs: Auston Matthews Can’t Draw a Penalty
So far this season, Auston Matthews has drawn just 3 penalties. The league leaders is Connor McDavid, who has drawn 18 penalties.
These are the NHL’s undisputed two best players. Both of them constantly have the puck, and both are playing a ton of minutes. The three games Matthews has missed do not account for such a discrepancy.
This isn’t anything new, either. Last year McDavid drew 29 penalties to Matthews’ 14.
The year before, it was 24 to 14 in McDavid’s favor.
The NHL is the only professional sport in which the best players are screwed over by their league’s inability to enforce their own rules. A top scoring hockey player must contend with constant barrage of assaults while attempting to do his job.
Imagine if in baseball it was OK to throw at top players’ heads. Or if in basketball fouls went uncalled if you were averaging above 25 points per game. Hockey is a game officiated from the top down by idiots with no clue as to what they are doing. I know it sounds really unprofessional to be so harsh, but what about the NHL (the league, not it’s players) seems professional to you?
How does a player of Auston Matthews’ caliber not routinely draw penalties? You can watch any game and see a number of penalties against him go uncalled. I expected his penalty drawing numbers to be low, based on the amount of respect I have for how NHL referees do their job, and honestly, I found it more surprising that McDavid actually draws calls.
McDavid and Nathan MacKinnon are ranked second and fifth in penalties-drawn over the last three NHL seasons at 5v5 play. This is reasonable, because they are the best players and that is what seems inherently correct. But, the fact that Auston Matthews ranks 126th tells me that there is something wrong with the NHL. I mean, that isn’t even defensible. There is no logical reason how a player who scores more than anyone else doesn’t draw penalties.
I have watched almost every minute of his NHL career, and I haven’t noticed that opponents don’t take penalties against him. Actually, they take constant and excessive liberties against him. Routinely the Maple Leafs are at the bottom of the NHL in penalties drawn (they rank 26th in time on the power-play/game for the last three seasons), which makes no sense for a team that always has the puck. ( all stats naturalstattrick.com).
A clue as to how the NHL calls penalties can be seen by looking at who has drawn the most penalties over the last three years. These numbers are for all-situations. It makes sense to see McDavid ranked 3rd, but look who else draws the most penalties:
- Brady Tkachuk,
- Matt Tkachuk,
- Connor McDavid
- Brad Marchand,
- Tom Wilson,
- Brendan Lemieux,
- Nazem Kadri.
That’s right, six of the NHL’s top seven players at drawing penalties over the last 3 seasons are the six dirtiest players in the league. This clearly indicates that the best way to get a power-play is to play a like a dangerous moron. In the NHL there is a clear incentive to break the rules.
Auston Matthews doesn’t get the reputation calls that are for some reason granted to his only peer. He doesn’t play like a clown, so he doesn’t get draw penalties the other way either.
The NHL is a joke. Matthews has 61 goals in his last 82 regular season games. He has over 70 goals in his last 82 home games. Imagine what he could do if he could draw a $$$$$$ penalty?