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It’s Simple: Matthews Is the Best Player in Maple Leafs History

Simply stated, Auston Matthews is the best player ever to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Why is that the case? What makes him special?

On a night when he needed to step up, that’s just what Auston Matthews did. After a sluggish first period where his team was down by a goal but it could have been more, Matthews created some personal and franchise history by scoring his first natural hat trick. All these goals came during just seven minutes and 49 seconds during the second period.

Related: 5 Interesting Facts About Simon Benoit of the Maple Leafs

The result was a thrilling 4-3 overtime win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night. The fact of the matter was that, while his team didn’t play necessarily well, Matthews did. He was the scoring difference between a win and a loss for his team. [Credit also has to be given to goalie Ilya Samsonov, who held his listless team in the game until they woke up – led by Matthews’ exploits, by the way.]

Matthews Goals Were Old-Time Matthews

Each goal that Matthews scored was a testament to his skill, his ability, and his powerful precision. First, he tied the game at 1-1 with a blistering wrist shot past the goaltender’s glove from the top of the left circle. Second, he capitalized on a power-play opportunity, one-timing a great play and pass from Mitch Marner to give the Maple Leafs a crucial 2-1 lead. Finally, completing the hat trick late in the frame, Matthews unleashed a perfectly placed shot high glove side through traffic.

Auston Matthews Maple Leafs bench

These goals are reminiscent of Matthews a couple of years ago. Although he scored over 40 goals last season, he wasn’t himself. At least he just wasn’t the Matthews who scored 60 goals in that season to win the Rocket Richard Trophy. This season’s Matthews is not a Matthews who passes; this is a Matthews who throws his best shot at the opposition goalies and says “Try to stop this if you can!” They often cannot.

In Matthews, Fans Are Seeing the Best Maple Leafs Player Ever

With this overwhelming performance (if you were the Flyers), Matthews not only recorded his fifth hat trick of the season but also joined an exclusive group of NHL legends. He now shares the Maple Leafs’ single-season hat trick record with legendary figures like Reg Noble, Babe Dye, and Darryl Sittler. Additionally, Matthews broke Sittler’s franchise record for multi-goal games. Thursday was his 72nd such game.

Records aside, Matthews’ scoring just shows the hockey world that he’s currently the NHL’s premier goal scorer. At the same time, it places him higher on the hill among the Maple Leafs’ greats of all time. It’s hard for me to fathom that, for a hockey club that is 106 years old, we are seeing its best player ever in Matthews.

Let me repeat that. Tonight, when the Maple Leafs play the Anaheim Ducks, we will be watching the best player EVER to wear a Maple Leafs uniform when we see Auston Matthews do his thing. As the season and Matthews’ career progresses, as fans we will see continued more sensational games from this talented forward as he continues to write his name into the Maple Leafs record books.

Teammate William Nylander Put It Simply

“Best goal-scorer in the league,” Nylander said. “I don’t know what else to tell you.”

Matthews is on a historic pace. He now has 45 goals in just 51 games. He’s looking to become the first NHL player to hit 70 goals since Teemu Selanne and Alexander Mogilny each had 76 in 1992-93. Can he do it?

I’m not betting against him.

Related: Celebrating Maple Leafs Bobby McMann’s Surprising Hat Trick

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