Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs were due for a 5-on-5 goals explosion – The Athletic

LOS ANGELES — After practice in El Segundo late on Tuesday afternoon, Auston Matthews and a handful of teammates huddled around backup goalie Joseph Woll to play a game of rebound.

Matthews cleanly sniped a shot past Woll at one point. An impressed Alex Kerfoot reached out for a glove tap.

Despite all kinds of opportunity, Matthews hasn’t scored like that, like usual in other words, so far this season —  at 5-on-5 in particular. He buried only his third 5-on-5 goal of the season Wednesday night, ending a personal 10-game drought. It’s been maybe the biggest mystery of the early season in Toronto — why it is that Matthews, and the Leafs as a whole, have struggled to convert 5-on-5?

This team has consistently ranked among the league’s best that way.

Leafs’ 5-on-5 rankings

Their leader has always been Matthews, a historically great scorer at even strength.

The reigning Rocket Richard Trophy winner, Matthews had a nine-goal cushion on Connor McDavid for the league lead in 5-on-5 goals last season — despite playing more than 70 fewer minutes.

He was 12 goals up on Alex Ovechkin for the three seasons before this one.

Matthews shot it plenty — landing more shots than only

Add comment