Matthews Starts Strong
When Mike Babcock harangued his team about “starting on time” for game nights in the autumn, one youngster took the message to heart.
Auston Matthews now has nine game-opening goals for the Leafs, moving ahead of Sidney Crosby for the league lead Thursday night in Tampa Bay. Teammate Nazem Kadri praised the first round pick’s pre-game preparation, but just as Matthews has said about his 18 goals overall, he’s not getting too scientific about the results.
“That’s just the way they’ve been falling lately,” he said of his early tallies.
He and Babcock have not overlooked the role of linemates Zach Hyman and Connor Brown.
“They’re ultra competitive and really skate,” the coach said. “So they’ve had a lot of success when they work hard. (Matthews) obviously has a heavy shot, so they get lots of opportunities every night and that doesn’t matter who they play against. He’s getting better and better and that helps our team.”