A lot has been said about NBC depriving hockey fans of the chance to see Auston Matthews through scheduling. The Maple Leafs (spoiler!) are a Canadian team, and sometimes the national broadcast guys assume that hockey fans won’t watch a non-American team.
I do hate to break it to people, but American hockey fans want to see Auston Matthews. First off, he’s an American. Second off, he’s one of a new generation of talent playing in this league who will keep the game exciting for years to come. Matthews leads the Leafs with ten goals and eight assists, and it’s thanks to the team’s youth that they’re back on the right side of the NHL standings. Mike Babcock led the Maple Leafs back to the playoffs last season, so in the land of high expectations (read: Toronto), that means that anything less this season is unacceptable. The Leafs aren’t pushovers - they can’t afford to be.
They can still make youthful mistakes, which is something that the Blues should focus on after their inexplicable inability to penetrate the Flyers’ inexperienced blueline Thursday night. The Blues won both games against the Leafs last season, outscoring them 7-2, so getting through their defense shouldn’t be an issue. Getting through the Maple Leafs’ goaltending also shouldn’t be a problem:
The key to winning is to keep Matthews off of the scoresheet. That’s easier said than done, but the Blues’ defense stifled him last season, which was a year that he potted 40. The kid is a wonder to watch, but I’d prefer to watch him score all of those goals on TV rather than at Scottrade against the Blues.