It was under a year ago that I wrote how John Tavares and the Maple Leafs weren’t a good fit. Ah, how quickly things change. Tavares has had an excellent first season in Toronto and many will likely crown him the team’s Most Valuable Player at the end of the season.
Last night against the Panthers, Tavares recorded his first-ever four-goal game. In doing so, he reached 45 goals on the season and pulled himself right into the conversation for the Rocket Richard Trophy.
Alex Ovechkin currently leads the league in scoring with 48 goals and he seemed like a shoo-in to run away with the eighth goal-scoring title of his career. But not so fast! Tavares is now just three goals behind Ovechkin with six games left to go.
Let’s look at Toronto’s remaining schedule…
- @ Philadelphia: The Flyers have been one of the league’s worst teams in terms of goals against this year, though that has changed recently thanks to good play from Carter Hart. In two meetings this year, the Leafs have piled 13 goals on Philly.
- @ Ottawa: The Sens are all kinds of bad. They traded every player that anybody would actually recognize away at the trade deadline and now they’re running out a team full of computer-generated randoms. But, then again, they shelled the Leafs 6-2 not too long ago, so…
- @ Islanders: This would be too perfect. If Tavares can score a few in Philly and Ottawa, he would be setting himself up to hit the 50-goal plateau against his old club. While Islanders fans will obtain a free diaper for attending the game, they could also boo themselves to tears as Tavares achieves a childhood dream of scoring 50 goals with a team that actually matters.
- vs Carolina: The Leafs then return home for a game against Carolina and old friend Curtis McElhinney. The Canes are hot right now, so this won’t be an easy one.
- vs Tampa Bay: A second-round series preview, the Leafs will play Tampa Bay one more time before the end of the season.
- @ Montreal: John Tavares didn’t grant the Canadiens an interview last summer when heading into free agency, but he can give them the next best thing, which is a first-row ticket to him overtaking Ovechkin on the final day of the season for the Rocket Richard Trophy race.
Hitting 50 goals is pretty realistic, but catching Ovechkin is going to be tough. I really, really want to see Tavares hit that 50-goal mark in New York, though.