Auston Matthews' Debut So Much More Than Just Goal Scoring
You've seen it by now. Last year's first overall pick made a coalbin out of Craig Anderson's net Wednesday night, and in all likelihood cemented himself as this year's Calder favourite in the eyes of the experts.
Auston Matthews set an NHL record for most goals in a player's career debut. https://t.co/qLbuAfIgaj— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 13, 2016
No rookie has ever potted four in his first game, and to make it all the more impressive, he had seen just over 11 minutes of icetime when he shook the cage for his final tally of the game. Here's how he compares to other top rookies entering play:
Games To Score 4 Career Goals:— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) October 13, 2016
Auston Matthews - 1
Connor McDavid - 7
Wayne Gretzky - 10
Sidney Crosby - 13
Mario Lemieux - 15
Does that mean Auston Matthews is more talented than McDavid, Gretzky, Crosby and Lemieux? No, not in my mind anyways- but it sure is a cool stat. Either way, Matthews looks like he's every bit as good as advertised. Matthews performance was nothing shy of spectacular, and didn't go unnoticed by another top prospect in this year's draft- a guy who felt he should've gone first overall. When asked about whether or not he too needed to score four points or better in his debut to rival Matthews, Laine had this to say:
Patrik Laine #nhljets this morning when I asked if he had to score 5 to best Auston Matthews: "No, I need two points. Two for the win."— gary lawless (@garylawless) October 13, 2016
Oh my, talk about shade. The thought of a Crosby-Ovechkin rivalry is quelled by the two guys playing in different conferences, but the concept of these two facing off sounds unbelievably exciting to me. These two youngsters are good for the game and I'll be watching plenty of both this season.
Obviously scoring four goals in your first game in the NHL is a huge accomplishment, but that wasn't all he did well. Matthews saw 17:37 of icetime in his debut, but just 58% of his zone stars were offensive ones. Babcock entrusted his new weapon in the defensive zone, something that most young players struggle with- and he delivered. He boasted an all-situations CORSIfor% of 72.5, good for third on the squad. Only Milan Michalek and William Nylander were better. I'm not a believer in plus/- as a statistic, but it's also worth noting that despite giving up five goals (and the loss!!!!) Matthews was still a +3. Being a positive driver of puck possession is an absolute must as an NHL player and Matthews showed plenty worth being excited about Wednesday evening. He really only made one mistake all night and that is the reason he didn't finish a +4 instead, when he lost his check in overtime resulting in the game winning goal from Kyle Turris.
Turris buries slap shot in OT for winner https://t.co/jlfO7XJqoO via— Josh Thomas (@Jthomas5403) October 14, 2016
Matthews admitted that he missed his check there as a result of being too aggressive in the neutral zone. That kind of maturity can be uncommon in young players, and admitting his fault is a good sign that he is responsible and accountable in the locker room. That being said, giving up one goal in exchange for putting up four? I think Babcock is okay with that, I know I am. For your viewing pleasure, see the following highlight reel.
The second one is nothing shy of spectacular. Expect to see that on play of the year lists everywhere.
Thanks for reading!