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Friday FTB: How Auston Matthews hit 50 goals this season

Looking at all the ways one can sort a number

Winnipeg Jets v Toronto Maple Leafs
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 31: Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates being named 1st star and scoring his 50th goal of the season during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on March 31, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Jets 7-3.
Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Last night, Auston Matthews scored his 50th goal of the season for the Toronto Maple Leafs in his 62nd game (with the Leafs having 14 more to go) on the empty net against the Winnipeg Jets to secure what ended up being a 7-3 win. It was an amazing moment at home amplified by the frenetic Leafs fans who were basically frothing (in the good way) for Auston to hit 50. When he did, the crowd erupted with a standing ovation. And then the first star of the night was announced, and the home crowd went wild again.

It should bear repeating that Matthews is the first Leaf to hit 50 goals in a season in 28 years. And he might hit 60!

That’s the impact of having the best hockey player in the world playing in this city. Leafs Nation tend to treat every player in this city like a god (or when they’re gone, a villain), but Matthews is clearly a level higher. What’s higher than a god?

Before I get to philosophical, I thought I would look at how Matthews earned his 50 goals. The last couple have been on empty nets, so surely someone out there is claiming he’s just an empty calories scorer. Why not put that argument to bed.

5v5 Goals

31. First in the league. Six more than Kyle Connor who has 41 goals on the season.

Power Play

14. This is the one area Matthews lags behind his opponents in the Rocket Richard race. Not only do the Leafs get significantly less time on the power play than the teams of the opponents ahead of Matthews (Edmonton, Colorado, New York), but the power play is — for all intents and purposes — the only way Chris Kreider is in the fight at all. Matthews is third in power play goals per 60 minutes.

The Leafs, and by extension Matthews, dominate at 5v5, that’s how they win games. It would be great if they had some more power plays, but I think enough bytes have been used up in that conversation lately.

Shorthanded

0. Auston Matthews, being Auston Matthews, doesn’t play on the penalty kill. And why would you when Ilya Mikheyev leads the league with 4 shorthanded goals?

6v5

0. Interestingly enough, Matthews hasn’t scored a 6v5 goal yet this year when the Leafs have been trailing late. The Leafs have scored three such goals: Tavares, Spezza, and Marner. Matthews has two assists and 10 shots in this particular gamestate, so I think he’s due at some point this year.

Empty Net

4. This is the most empty net goals Matthews has scored in his career, but he’s a fair bit behind Ovechkin (8) and McDavid (6). Ovechkin has 47 empty net goals in his career, no one’s taking the league all-time scoring title from him if he makes it because of that. I shudder to ask how many Gretzky had (56).

First Period

15. Matthews has opened the scoring 7 times for the Leafs this season, and has 15 goals overall heading into the first intermission.

Second Period

21. I’m not sure if this is a result of the long change or just the randomness that is samples like these, but Matthews scores his most goals in the second period.

Third Period

13. Four of these are empty netters, meaning Matthews this season has scored very few in the third period. I wouldn’t read into this, it’s just one year and it could be an outlier (or a result of the Leafs usually having the lead in the third and therefore scoring less themselves).

Overtime

1. The Leafs have only been to overtime nine times this year, and have won in overtime four of those times (one shootout win and four losses as well. The other three goals from the Leafs this year have come from Nylander (twice) and Marner.

Most Assists

  1. Mitch Marner: 20
  2. Michael Bunting: 15
  3. Morgan Rielly: 12
  4. William Nylander: 8
  5. John Tavares: 6
  6. TJ Brodie, Timothy Liljegren: 5

No surprises here.

Shot Type

  1. Wrist shot: 22
  2. Snapshot: 8
  3. Backhand: 7
  4. Tip: 6
  5. Slapshot: 5
  6. Wraparound: 2

Again, no real surprises here. I always thought Matthews was wasting his time with his slapshot. It’s his least effective shot at only 13% efficiency (via NHL stats). That said, in previous years his slapshot was very effective. Maybe I’m just chasing shooting percentages here.

Expected

Matthews is pretty good at this scoring thing, which is why he’s outscoring his shot locations by about 12 goals so far. At 5v5, he’s outscoring his location by nine goals, and on the power play by three.

Home/Road

Matthews has scored 28 goals at home in 30 games and 22 on the road in 32.

Which stat jumps out to you the most? Which is the most telling? Leave me your thoughts in the comments!

All stats via NHL Stats, Natural Stat Trick, Hockey Viz, and Hockey Reference


Various Leafs and Branches

Recap: Matthews hits 50 goals and the Maple Leafs win big | by: Brigstew

Is poor goaltending a disaster the Leafs can’t overcome? | by: Katya

What The Department Of Player Safety Is For | by: Fulemin

2 New Marlies: Tommy Miller and Graham Slaggert | by: Katya

Here’s an update on a very brief former Leaf, Ryan Dzingel.

And finally, the NHL has cancelled the Reddit AMA with referee Wes McCauley. Mark this down as the first time the NHL didn’t shoot themselves in the foot. It was going to be a bloodbath, and it was going to be awesome. Hopefully another time.