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Why Auston Matthews’ goal-scoring rampage is so impressive

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Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Alberga
19 days ago
Auston Matthews should be commended for the way he’s handled his storybook 2023-24 regular season.
Simply put, the phenom has made goal scoring look as simple and easy as riding a bike.
Unfortunately, it’s not, even though the 26-year-old continues to light the lamp at a jaw-dropping rate.
On Tuesday night in Newark, Matthews potted No. 66 of the campaign to pass Alex Ovechkin for the most goals in a single season by an active NHL player. Furthermore, the Arizona native became just the 11th player in league history to score 66 goals in a season and the first since Mario Lemieux —28 years ago. Matthews needs four goals over his final four outings to hit the 70-goal plateau, a mark that hasn’t been reached since 1992-93 (Alexander Mogilny & Teemu Selanne).
Remarkably, from the season opener when he notched his first of six hat-tricks to present-day, the All-Star pivot hasn’t changed his game whatsoever. He’s been ridiculously consistent —on both sides of the puck. And that’s what makes him one of the best in the game right now and one of the greatest Maple Leafs of all time. Period. Full stop.
As is the case for most pure snipers, the game and puck seem to find the soon-to-be three-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner every single time. It’s like clockwork —utterly outrageous.
It’s the way Matthews has done this, too, that makes it even more special. Through 77 contests (missed one game due to illness), he’s tallied 66 goals. Incredibly, just two of those have come via an empty net. In fact, he’s scored just nine empty-net goals in his career. For context, in the same time span, Alex Ovechkin has scored 32 empty netters.
Translation: Matthews is full-on sprinting towards GOAT goal scorer status. It’s hard to deny that.
On top of all that, the most impressive thing about this historical season is that Matthews has stayed grounded through all of it. Not once has it felt like he’s been chasing a specific number. He’s stayed within himself and let the game come to him. Most notably, even though he’s on pace to achieve something that hasn’t been done in 31 years, the future Hall-of-Famer has remained laser-focused on the greater good —for not only himself but his teammates.
The personal accomplishments are awesome and everything, but Matthews seems driven for something bigger and better this season.

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