Despite a goal drought, Auston Matthews shouldn’t worry too much writes Chris Johnston of Sportsnet. The 19-year-old from Arizona scored an NHL record four goals in his first game, but is currently goalless in his last seven. But Johnston writes that Matthews knows droughts and poor play are part of the professional hockey experience. When he was a member of the ZSC Lions last season, Matthews had a similar streak but it didn’t faze him, going a similar number of contests where he wasn’t “playing well.” Johnston feels like Matthews is a recipient of a lack of puck luck than poor play. The Leaf center leads the team in shots during those seven games and had 32 in his past four. Johnston also adds that Matthews isn’t pouting on or off the ice about his struggles.
Meanwhile, Greg Wyshynski writes that Patrik Laine is playing Alex Ovechkin to Matthews’ Sidney Crosby in terms of being a competitive number two pick in comparison to the number one pick. Wyshynski writes that Laine is overtaking Matthews both from the eye test perspective and on the score sheet. Laine has already tallied 11 goals this season, and leads rookies in both goals and points (15). More impressive, Laine notched his second hat trick of the season, and becomes just the fourth player in NHL history to record two hat tricks before his 19th birthday.
Wyshynski figures that Laine, who idolizes Ovechkin, will lead rookies in either goals or points at the end of the season, making his case for the Calder Trophy. Further, Wyshynski writes:
As we said, the Calder still comes down to which rookies lead in points and goals at the end of the season. It’s hard to imagine, barring injury, Laine won’t lead in one of them. And just a month into the season, you can feel that familiar momentum from a decade ago: Flashy, sniping European winger stealing the headlines from the North American prodigy.
While there are still a great crop of rookies in the NHL this season, it will certainly be fascinating to continue watching Matthews and Laine not only this season, but hopefully throughout long and productive careers.