Toronto Maple Leafs: The Race Is On For Auston Matthews

Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs are proud to have the current Rocket Richard trophy winner Auston Matthews playing for them. He won the trophy with 41 goals last season. The year before, Matthews, with 47 goals, finished just one goal behind David Pastrnak (48) and Alex Ovechkin (48).

The 24-year-old Toronto Maple Leafs superstar is once again in the NHL scoring race. His current 29 goals have him tied with Ovechkin for third place. Both players are four goals back of the current leader Chris Kreider (33). Leon Draisaitl is also in the mix and is currently second in goals with 31.

Matthews has played a minimum of two and as many as eight games less than the players ahead of him.  He has 22 goals in his last 22 games.

Matthews can thank his great series against the New Jersey Devils for getting him back in the race. The Toronto Maple Leafs played the Devils in a back-to-back series on January 31st and February 1st. Toronto won both of those games, and Matthews registered four goals. He scored three goals in the first game for his 4th career hat trick and scored another goal in the second game.

Toronto does not play again until Monday, February 7th, against the Carolina Hurricanes. The NHL has no games scheduled from February 3rd to February 6th. This is due to the NHL All-Star game on February 5th. Fans of the Maple Leafs can watch Matthews and teammate Jack Campbell take part in the All-Star game.
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The Toronto Maple Leafs and Auston Matthews Look To Finish Strong

During the first half of the season, there were three separate occasions when Matthews went three or more games without a goal, though he has currently on a goal per game for more than 25% of a season.

Matthews is on pace to score 58 goals in 79 games this season.  It would not only be the first time he reaches the 50 goals mark, though only because each of the last two seasons has been shortened by Covid.

59 goals would also set a new franchise record for goals in a season. Former team captain Rick Vaive scored his record-setting 54 goals during the 1981-82 season, back when scoring was much easier.

For Matthews to pass Vaive for the new franchise record, Matthews will need to score 26 more times to reach 55 goals. If he can stay healthy, he will have 40 games to try and do it. A few Toronto Maple Leafs players have come close in the past but always came up short. Will Matthews finally be the one to do it? We will find out in the next 40 games or less.

As well as setting his own franchise record, Matthews could help Toronto set a new franchise record for points in a season. The current team record is 105 points in a season. Matthews and the Maple Leafs achieved that record in the 2017-18 season. Toronto needs to collect 45 points out of a possible 80 available points in their remaining 40 games to reach 106 points. Toronto is on pace for 118 points this season. Passing the previous team best of 105 points should be achievable.

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If the 2019-20 season wasn’t cut short due to the pandemic, I strongly believe that Matthews would have passed Rick Vaive’s record of 54 goals that season. I will be rooting for him to break the record this season. The Toronto Maple Leafs have  won 29 out of 42 games. I have enough confidence in them to win at least 23 out of their last 40 games to set a new franchise record of 106 points or better.