It’s not just the goal scoring. The other reason Auston Matthews is the MVP frontrunner


On the surface, it looked just like any other Auston Matthews performance.

Two goals, including the game winner, during a Thursday night win over the Minnesota Wild in late February.

Dig a little deeper and it was very clear there was something more was going on, something that’s been almost entirely overshadowed (understandably) by the historic goal scoring; something that puts an exclamation point on his candidacy for the Hart Trophy.

That something: all-world defence.

Over 20 minutes against the Wild that night, Matthews piled up six takeaways, the second-highest total by an NHLer this season.

Matthews lives in his own world as a goal scorer. He’s also become the league’s premier takeaway artist.

The takeaway-fest against Minny included one particularly aggressive shakedown, which sprung Matthews for the goal that won his team the game.

Afterward, Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe raved about the goal — one of 60 for Matthews this season — calling it “completely earned” and “completely effort-based.”

“Unbelievable track,” Keefe said, referring to Matthews’ backcheck. “I don’t know how many pucks he stripped from behind today or broke up, but it’s a high number.

“He doesn’t get enough credit for how he plays defensively.”