Last season , Auston Matthews The Toronto Maple Leafs became the first NHL player to score 60 goals since then Stephen Stamkos of Tampa Bay Lightning hit the mark in 2011-12.
Matthews finished 60 goals in 73 games, nine less than what Stamkos needed to score his 60th. Alex Ovechkin Of the Washington Capitals he is the only other player to have scored at least 60 goals since the turn of the century, scoring 65 in 82 games in 2007-08.
So, could Matthews become the first NHL player to score at least 60 goals in consecutive seasons since Pavel Burr did so for the Vancouver Canucks in 1992-93 (60 in 83 games) and 1993-94 (60 goals in 76 games? )?
That’s the question that NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor Adam Kimmelman and Senior Managing Editor asked in discussing Shawn P. Roarke in this segment of State Your Case.
Kimmelman: Even though Matthews was the first player in a decade to score 60 goals in a single season, there’s no way we’d wait that long for it to happen again. In fact, I’d say he’s scored at least 60 points this season. At 24, Matthews is in the prime of his life, and no one in the NHL shoots the disc better. And it’s not just how hard it is to shoot him. Matthews scores a lot because of his quick shooting along with the incredible range of angles and settings he can use to get his shots. His shots can come from anywhere on the ice. At 6 feet 3 and 205 pounds, it’s powerful enough to knock a puck off a wall, shut down a defender and score at close range, or set him up in the confrontation circuit for one timer. Matthews also has an inner drive to prove that each season he can improve a little bit. For me, that means 60 more times for sure.
Rourke: Look, there’s no doubt that Matthews is a great player, possibly the best player in the NHL. But that is not the argument here. The argument is whether he can score 60 goals in 2022-23. In the long and illustrious history of the association, this number has been achieved 40 times, and only three times since 2000-2001. Ovechkin, the greatest goalscorer of his generation, and arguably of any generation, has topped 60 goals once, scoring 65 goals in 2007-08. As previously mentioned, Stamkos is the other player to score 60 points in that period, and he did so in 2011-12 when he was 22 years old with all his career ahead of him. Stamkos is now 32 and has not scored more than 45 in a season since, although this is partly due to a variety of injuries and two shorter seasons (2012-13, 2020-21). Bure, the man Matthews is chasing, came close to scoring 60 on two other occasions (58 with the Florida Panthers in 1999-2000; 59 in 2000-01), but never managed to hit the target. So, I bet it happened out of respect for the sheer nature of this feat.
Kimmelman: I understand how rare and difficult it is to score 60 goals in a single season, but let’s look at the 2020-21 season, when Matthews scored 41 goals in 52 games. In an 82-game season, that would equate to 61 goals in 78 games (Matthews missed four games in 56 games in a season cut short by the pandemic). Therefore, the controversy likely revolves around the possibility that Matthews will score 60 goals for the third consecutive season. With his size, skill, shot, skating, strength and work ethic, I think the only thing that could stop Matthews from hitting 60 again is injury.
Rourke: Injuries happen, of course, but let’s not forget the hockey gods either. An average of three goals for every four matches played requires a bit of luck. Last season, Matthews scored 17.2% of his shots, slightly above his career average of 16.4. At his average rate, Matthews would need more than 365 shots at the net to reach 60 goals, which he has done only 12 times since 2000-2001, with Ovechkin accounting for nine of those. So the size of the shot even from the elite forward is unprecedented. Incidentally, among those 12 cases, the highest hit was 15.4 before, and he, too, Bure, when he scored 59 goals in 384 shots in 2000-01. Could Matthews score 60 more times in his career? surely. Can he lead the league in scoring again? no doubt. But he won’t score 60 again this season. History indicates that it is a hill too high to climb. If Matthews proves me wrong, he will have more power – and Adam to believe.