The Toronto Maple Leafs have to hope that the train keeps rolling down the tracks, because when Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner get going there’s simply no stopping them. Just when you think Matthews’ scoring will slow down, he doubles down on his Rocket Richard Trophy-clinching pace. Marner simply keeps finding and feeding him, and Matthews keeps obliging by scoring goal after goal – again and again and …
Tonight Matthews scored two goals against the Vancouver Canucks in a 5-1 win to increase his NHL-leading goal total to 38. It was the Maple Leafs fifth-straight victory. Partner Marner had two assists – yes – on both of Matthews’ goals – and the team just keeps smoking towards the playoffs.
From His Position on the Other End of the Ice, What Does Goalie Jack Campbell Think?
Goalie Jack Campbell, who looks to be back on his A-game after a bit of a funk when he lost two in a row, stopped 26 of 27 shots. His record has now improved to 15-2-1, with a goals-against average of 2.07 and a save percentage of .927 in his 18 starts.
Campbell had this to say about Matthew and Marner: “It’s one thing to have some chemistry. It’s another to have the talent they have and to use it together for the (betterment) of the team. They both have the team in mind in all the plays they make.”
Campbell added, “Coming back in the defensive zone, making great plays, and then it leads to those highlight-reel plays you see on the TV every night.”
Where Might Matthews Be If He Hadn’t Been Injured?
The question that could be asked is whether there was a chance that Matthews might have had 50 goals in this season’s 56-game schedule. Who’s to say No, considering that Matthews scored his 38 goals in only 47 games played. Not only did he miss four games with a wrist injury, but that wrist injury caused him to tone down his game. In truth, he played at a shadow of his skill for a short stretch of games. That injury couldn’t have helped his numbers.
Here’s an amazing statistic: Matthews has scored 17 goals in his last 17 games.
Matthews Scores His 38th Goal of the Season
In the video below of Matthews 38th goal, you can see Marner steal the puck from Canucks’ defenseman Alex Edler and then somehow find Matthews. Matthews then calmly threw the puck over goalie Thatcher Demko’s left shoulder.
What Record Is on Matthews’ Horizon?
Teammate Alex Galchenyuk assessed Matthews’ skill level by saying “It’s unbelievable.” Perhaps what’s more unbelievable is that the Maple Leafs’ center is so relentlessly methodical. He’s a scoring machine. Galchenyuk added that Matthews is ”A one-of-a-kind player.” He’s right.
Part of what makes Matthews one-of-a-kind is that he scores important goals. Right now, the 23-year-old has scored an NHL-leading 12th game-winning goal. By scoring the game’s winning goal, he moved only one behind Charlie Conacher’s franchise-record of 13 game-winners during a season.
What Does Head Coach Sheldon Keefe Think?
The Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe simply noted that Matthews is ‘feeling it.’ The chemistry between he and Mitch is obvious.”
Then Keefe reminded people that Matthews hasn’t had a smooth season, because he went through a tough patch of games where he battled that nagging wrist injury. Keefe did admit what was seems obvious by watching, Matthews “is obviously feeling better and you’re seeing the results.”
The Last Word Goes to Line-Partner Marner
Accolade after accolade, the last word on Matthews goes to his friend and line partner: “He’s done an amazing job in the offensive zone getting himself open. He can shoot the puck from really wherever in his stance. It’s been a lot of fun to play with him, and it’s been a lot of fun to see him do what he’s doing this year.”
So the last word on Matthews according to Marner is that he’s fun to play with. Maple Leafs’ fans have to hope that fun doesn’t disappear until the Stanley Cup playoffs are over.
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