By the numbers: Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews' career-best 41-goal seasonSporting News — firstname.lastname@example.org (Sporting News)
Toronto knew they had a superstar from the moment Auston Matthews stepped on the ice in his NHL debut in 2016 when he scored four goals.
On Thursday against the Dallas Stars, the fourth-year center surpassed his previous career-high goal total, posting his 41st of the season off a sweet snipe past Ben Bishop on the blocker side. Matthews scored 40 in his rookie season and followed it up with 34 and a 37 goal campaign the next two years, but 2019-20 reminds us yet again that he is an elite goal-scorer whose name belongs atop the list with the Alex Ovechkin's and David Pastrnak's of the NHL.
While there are a lot of impressive figures behind the 22-year-old's year, here are five things to know about Matthews' new career mark for most goals in a season.
1. On pace to blow previous best out of the water
Not only has Matthews set a new career-high but he has 24 games to pile on plenty more. He is on pace for 58 tallies by the end of the season, which would surpass each of the Rocket Richard Trophy winners since the lockout season of 2012-13.
However, Matthews isn't a shoo-in for the award this year as Pastrnak has the same projected goal total (58 games) and Ovechkin trails the pair by one with two games in hand.
2. Home ice has its advantages
Of the 41 goals scored so far, a whopping 30 have come at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto; I guess it's fair to say Matthews likes playing at home.
That equates to just over 73 percent of his goal total for the season — and that's not counting practice.
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3. Consistency is key
One major factor in Matthews' success has been his durability; he has not missed a game this season (although, he did miss the All-Star Game with a sore wrist) and more time on the ice equals more goals. But it's much more than that.
No. 34 has only gone three or more games without scoring a goal twice this season: three games from Nov. 9-13 and five games from Nov. 27 to Dec. 4. He has scored in 33 of 58 games played (57 percent) and has had three separate three-game goal streaks (Oct. 2-5, Jan. 4-8 and Feb. 3-7).
4. Making everyone around him better
Matthews isn't the only player on the ice — and he can't do it all himself. A total of 14 players have assisted on at least one of Matthews' goals with Mitchell Marner racking up the most helpers (23), followed by William Nylander (11) and Tyson Barrie (eight).
A chart showing each assist Matthews has received is below.
|Player||Primary assists||Total assists|
Note: these are only assists on goals scored by Matthews.
According to Natural Stat Trick, Marner, who has the most assists on Matthews' goals, has shared the ice for the fourth-most minutes among skates with him at 376 minutes and 22 seconds. Nylander has played the most with Matthews this season (512:52), followed by Barrie (454:36) and Johnsson (424:28).
5. Power-play time is at a premium
Matthews has also seen success on the power play, scoring 11 of his goals (27 percent), and 22 points (32 percent of his season total), with the man advantage
The Maple Leafs have the third-best power play across the league, scoring on 25.2 percent of their opportunities.