Auston Matthews, the top pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, made history in his very first game, taking only 40 minutes to be the first player in hockey’s modern era to pull off four goals in his first career NHL game. Playing with the Maple Leafs in a game against the Ottawa Senators, he scored two goals within the first period and two within the second period. For Maple Leaf fans, it didn’t really matter that the Senators came back to win the game in overtime – all eyes were on Auston Matthews.
While every single goal scored was a thing of beauty, it was the second goal that really grabbed attention. In just seconds, he made quick decisions, a few subtle moves, and added a few bursts of speed, pulling off an incredible goal that went down in NHL history. It didn’t require a special play to make this goal happen. Instead, it took some incredible hockey IQ to pull this one off, something that few NHL players have, especially so young. On a historic night, it was that second goal that was considered an all-timer – one for the books.
While no one player can be a savior for a hockey team, the Maple Leafs are excited about Auston Matthews’ big debut. According to Coach Mike Babcock, it was the best night he’d had as coach of the team. Even Matthews’ teammates are impressed with his playing, something that will help other Maple Leafs up their game to keep up with Matthews. Beyond the excitement of the coach and the players, the incredible debut game also excited the fans, who haven’t had a lot to be excited about over the last few seasons of hockey.
Auston Matthews is just 19 years old, and fans need to temper their expectations for the rookie. However, his incredible first game does do one thing – it opens the door of opportunity for the Maple Leafs, even though they lost the first game. The coach, the team, and the fans are excited like never before. Why? Head coach Mike Babcock said it best: “Because now we have an opportunity.”
Opportunity is knocking for the Maple Leafs. And sure, you don’t get a lot of those games. It was a single game – a great game. The key is for Matthews and the Maple Leafs to keep moving forward, focusing on the next games. Matthews has proven he has greatness in him, and he’s expected to do great things for the Leafs this season. But it will take the entire team working together to take this opportunity and turn it into something great.