The Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 last night, overcoming their previous disaster in Buffalo.
The Toronto Maple Leafs started great, had a rough second, and then closed things out with an efficient and solid third period.
The Leafs enter the break with sights on first place, and two Hart Trophy contenders on their roster.
William Nylander scored a shorty, even though he didn't have the best game, but it was Auston Matthews who stole the show with another two goals.
Matthews Shows Hart as the Toronto Maple Leafs Break for Christmas
This morning I read an article that listed about ten guys who weren't Auston Matthews for the NHL's MVP so far.
It was ridiculous.
Point totals are fine, but goals matter more, and Matthews scores them better than anyone. (And that includes the absolutely awesome Trevor Zegras).
Matthews is now up to a ridiculous 238 goals on the season, in just 30 games. That is a 77 goal pace, and when you consider how much easier it was to score goals when Wayne Gretzky scored 92, that can't be far off the best pace of all time if you adjust it for the era we're playing in.
So you will excuse me if I find Nathan McKinnon MVP talk to be ridiculous. There is only one MVP in the NHL this season, and it's Auston Matthews.
But I digress.
Last night's game was fun, and it is extremely important for the Toronto Maple Leafs that they didn't enter the break losing four of their last five games, especially with two of those games being against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
I also thought Morgan Rielly had a great game last night, and obviously Marner looked great reunited with Matthews. Not sure what the deal was with the Tavares/Nylander line, but they were terrible at 5v5.
The win moves the Toronto Maple Leafs to within 4 points of the Bruins for the Atlantic lead, with a game in hand. They are tied with the Panthers, but have two games in hand over them.
The Leafs sit in 9th place overall, and have to consider the first half of the season to be a success, considering that they have a much better record then they deserve.
The thing to think about with this team is how crazy good they could be with an NHL quality blue-line and a better roster balance and Matthews still scoring every game.
One one hand, there is no history, between here and Calgary to indicate that Brad Treliving knows what he is doing at all. On the other, it seems like anyone could augment a team this naturally good enough to give it a fighting chance at the Stanley Cup.
I can't wait to see what happens.