Leafs: Nothing to Worry About With Auston Matthews

Nov 11, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews (34) carries the puck against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Philadelphia 6-3. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 11, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews (34) carries the puck against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Philadelphia 6-3. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Auston Matthews is receiving a lot of attention about his lack of goals and points in recent games, but Leafs fans should not worry about this.

The Toronto Maple Leafs selected Matthews first overall at this year’s draft and with that comes a lot of heightened expectations and, equally, pressure.

The media, particularly, should remember this is a 19-year-old playing his first ever season in the NHL and that sometimes requires some adjustment.

In 15 NHL games, Matthews has six goals and six assists for a total of 12 points, but he only has two assists to his name since October 27th.

This is worrying, right?

Well, let’s take a deeper look at Matthews’ standing within the Leafs’ team to truly determine if there are big concerns for a player on a team filled with young, skilled players.


The biggest concern surrounding Matthews right now is his lack of goals.

He has six to his name, but four of those came in his very first game against the Ottawa Senators – so is he ever going to score again?

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Of course he is. Matthews leads the Leafs in shots this season with 58, 15 more than James van Riemsdyk in second.

So that gives Matthews an average of 3.87 shots per game, with JVR averaging 2.87 across the same span.

Effectively, the Leafs will get at least one extra shot from their young center each game they play, on average.

As such, Matthews is currently second on the team in total goals scored with six.

He is behind Nazem Kadri on that list, who has one more than him with seven.

So, although he hasn’t scored in a while, other players on the team haven’t exactly been tearing it up and overtaking him by a country mile.


Despite not scoring in recent games, Mike Babcock still recognises his immense offensive talents and gives him plenty of opportunities on the team’s power-play unit.

Because of this, Matthews is ranked second on the team with PP points.

The American centre has four points on the power-play, behind fellow line-mate William Nylander – who has scored seven of out his 12 total points whilst on the power-play.

His value and regular shooting opportunities make him a deadly threat for the Leafs’ PP unit and will give him plenty of chances to increase his goal-scoring record.


Matthews boasts an impressive statistic so far this season, one that he shares with just three other Leafs – none of whom are rookies.

In 15 NHL games, Matthews has taken a grand total of ZERO penalty minutes.

He is joined by Martin Marincin, Ben Smith and Matt Hunwick for that honour, though Matthews has played more games than any of those other three players – the closest being Marincin with 12.

So, despite being a rookie, Matthews has not made any unnecessary plays or ‘rookie mistakes’ that have resulted in him being sent to the penalty box and seeing his team forced to kill a penalty.

The same can’t be said for fellow rookies Mitch Marner or Nylander, who have 12 and six penalty minutes respectively this season.

Nov 3, 2016; Buffalo, NY, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) looks to make a pass during the second period against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports /


The Leafs’ biggest struggle this season has been defensively, with Matthews admittedly making at least one play that has led to an opposing team scoring a goal.

Because of this, the Leafs have some disappointing plus/minus ratings – whether or not people like the stat format or not.

Matthews himself sits with a -4 rating this season, but he is not alone.

The worst plus/minus rating on the team belongs to Nikita Zaitsev with -8 and it should be noted that, as it stands, not a single Leafs can boast a plus-rating.

The highest rating for a Leaf player is an even-zero, something that Leo Komarov, Connor Carrick and Frank Corrado currently have.


As a centre, Matthews is required to take the majority of face-offs that his line faces.

Nylander is capable of doing this, as he has spent most of his career as a centre, but Matthews is the go-to guy when that line is on the ice.

For the faceoffs he takes he is floating just under a 50 percent rating, with 49.28 percent of face-offs going his way, and he sits fourth on the team in this category – behind Tyler Bozak, Marner and Smith.

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It should be noted that Nylander is 44.93 percent on face-offs and fellow line-mate Zach Hyman is just 36.84 percent.

So Matthews’ effectiveness on the face-offs actually benefits his team whereas other players, including Kadri, Komarov, JVR and Peter Holland, find themselves find themselves sitting behind the rookie in this area.

So yes, Matthews has struggled to score goals for the Leafs, but his contributions to the team go far beyond goals and points.

More points will certainly help silence a number of critics, but looking beyond that you can see that Matthews is having a very positive effect on the team and that is the area we should be looking at more.

After all, he is still a teenager and has plenty of time to grow and will no doubt have plenty more opportunities to increase his points tally.

He just needs time.

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What do you think? Is Matthews’ goalless run worrying? Or are you still satisfied with his overall performances for the Leafs? Let us know your views in the comments section.