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

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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.”