Friends, we need to talk about Auston Matthews.
Yes - again. We always need to talk about Matthews. For as long as he’s doing stuff like this...
Remember when, in his first NHL game, Matthews scored four goals? Remember how he scored a couple more after that, and then didn’t score for 13 straight games, and panic ensued and the city burned down?
... Or something like that?
Well. Since Matthews’ little goal-scoring drought, he has scored 14. In the past 17 games. His shooting percentage has bumped up to 15.0%, so sure, this probably isn’t sustainable. But he’s still getting about 3.7 shots per game, so...
Let’s try putting what Matthews is doing a different way. He has 20 goals in 36 games, yeah? You know who else did that?
Via the Elias Sports Bureau:
Only two other players who made their NHL debut since 1993 reached the 20-goal mark no more than 36 games into their career: Alex Ovechkin in his 33rd game, and Petr Prucha in his 36th game.
Prucha’s career unfortunately didn’t quite work out, but there is a bit of reason to compare Matthews to Ovechkin: namely, they were both first overall picks.
Matthews hasn’t quite matched Ovechkin in scoring that quickly, but that’s a pretty amazing comparison for any rookie to garner.
Also via Elias, Matthews made a bit more history from the Leafs: and when I say history, I’m talking 90 years ago type stuff.
Matthews is the third rookie in Maple Leafs history to produce a multiple-goal game, including a game-winning overtime goal, in regular-season play.
The first time that happened was almost 90 years ago, on Feb. 22, 1927, when future Hall of Famer Irvine “Ace” Bailey scored a pair of goals in a 3–2 win against the Rangers in New York. The most recent instance before New Year’s Day 2017 was Steve Thomas’ two-goal performance in a 3–2 victory versus the Sabres at Maple Leaf Gardens on Nov. 30, 1985.
As Elias further points out, Matthews isn’t the only rookie to do this this season - Patrik Laine (who Matthews has now passed in goals and points, in fewer games played) and San Jose’s Kevin Labanc have also accomplished this feat.
Hey, there’s only so much history you can ask one teenager to make. In one game, Matthews did it for both the Leafs and the entire league. He’s coming along.