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Auston Matthews makes history

Auston Matthews makes history

Posted by PanamericanWorld on April 03, 2017

It had been a generation since a rookie pulled on a Toronto Maple Leafs sweater and gave anyone a reason to look up who owned the organization’s best goal-scoring season by a first-year player. Then Auston Matthews arrived on the scene and Clark quickly made peace with the idea that he’d soon be ceding his place in the record book.

“The second period of the first game,” Clark said Tuesday at Air Canada Centre. “He was already ahead.”

It took until the first period of Game 75 against the Florida Panthers for the inevitable to finally happen.

Matthews gathered the puck in the high slot and beat James Reimer with a quick, low shot before the Panthers defenders could do anything about it. So many of his 35 goals have come from in-close on those tight plays with lots of traffic – a skill Clark referred to as a “goal-scorer’s touch.”

“I was just kind of trying to look for it there,” said Matthews. “I was able to kind of sneak it in.”

“The pretend goal-scorers are going high top glove all the time,” added Clark, who had 34 goals as a freshman in 1985-86. “When you watch Auston shoot, he’s like low, between the legs, blocker side – he’s going percentages – if there’s no goal on the shot there’s going to be something on the rebound or maybe another shot or a teammate’s got it.

“So he really thinks the game; more about how to get the goal than to be the pretty goal.”

He has scored more, and sooner, than anyone could reasonably have expected.

In fact, Matthews is only the third NHL rookie in the last 20 years to hit 35 goals – joining Alex Ovechkin (52) and Sidney Crosby (39) from the transformational 2005-06 season that is drawing parallels to this one because of Patrik Laine’s brilliance in Winnipeg.

What will truly make this centennial season unforgettable in Toronto is the fact he’s sharing the spotlight with two other exceptional rookies in William Nylander and Mitchell Marner, and they’re all destined to crack the 60-point barrier.

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