Thursday night the Toronto Maple Leafs ended their four-game losing streak when they took down the Calgary Flames 4-3.
Four goals were scored, all of which came from the Toronto Maple Leafs top line with Auston Matthews showing his scoring prowess with his fourth hattrick of the season.
Matthews has been a dominant scorer throughout the season and if you counted just his 28 even strength goals he would be tied for third in league goals trailing just David Pastrnak and Sam Reinhart, however when you add in his powerplay tallies he leads the league with 37.
The problem is, Matthews has not been getting much help from the rest of the line-up of late. Most notably, the captain and seventh highest paid player in the league John Tavares who has been one of the worst players in the NHL of late.
Tavares has gone through a stretch of 15 games where he has collected just three goals and five points with a horrendous -12 plus/minus rating. Over his last four box scores, his stat line looks almost identical, zero goals, zero assists and a -2 rating in each and every game.
When Tavares was signed on July 1, 2018 to a seven-year deal many said the back end of his contract was going to be painful, but you were paying for what he was going to bring before that.
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The disappointing part, we are now into the later years of the contract and he did not accomplish anything before that.
Sure he scored 47-goals in year one tapping in incredible Mitch Marner passes, but for $11 Million per season you wanted more. Instead, the Toronto Maple Leafs got exactly what the New York Islanders got from him, one playoff series win and good, but not great player.
Tavares is not alone in his struggles of late as Tyler Bertuzzi has scored just one goal in his last 24 games and is on pace for just 11 goals on the season. When looking back at his 2022-23 season, the Sudbury native finished with just eight goals in 50 games and we may be seeing exactly what type of player Bertuzzi is now as he climbs closer to age 30.
While most of the struggles on the team have been identified as coaching and the lack of defense, the offence could use a little more assistance from middle six. Matthew Knies has just two goals in 19 games, Calle Järnkrok has two goals in 13 games, Max Domi just one point in his last eight games and the $2.4 Million man David Kämpf has just one point in his last 16 games.
There is no question that the Toronto Maple Leafs need defensive help. but if these other guys can't find the back of the net, Matthews, Marner and William Nylander won't be able to do it all themselves.