Matthews poised to win second straight Rocket Richard Trophy
It’s that time again. Now that we’re halfway through the NHL’s 2021-22 season, we need to take a serious look at who’s front and center to win the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league's leading goal scorer.
The current top four candidates include two out of the last three years’ winners: Leon Draisaitl from the Edmonton Oilers (33 goals), Chris Kreider from the New York Rangers (32 goals), Auston Matthews from the Toronto Maple Leafs (31 goals), and Alexander Ovechkin from the Washington Capitals (29 goals).
Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy 2021/2022
Sat, April 30 2022, 4:30 AM
Look past Draisatl, Kreider, and Ovi
All five players have a legitimate shot at snagging the trophy this season, but one more than others. Let’s drop three and focus-in on our pick. First to drop, Leon Draisatl. The Oilers dynamic center is always a danger to score, but with a new coach, a sinking season and a new emphasis on team defense, his first half goal outburst is in danger of being seriously curtailed.
Next up, Chris Kreider. At 31 years old and nine years into his Rangers career on left wing, he’s having his best scoring season ever. It’s a good bet that he comes back down to Earth during the latter half of the year.
Now, Ovi. Though the "GR8 One" is solidly in the mix to win, the Capitals have already played more games than any other team in the league, and Ovechkin’s torrid first half scoring pace is already looking like it’s tailing off. Could it be his "advanced" age of 36 might finally be catching up with him? Yes. Yes it could.
So who gets the Rocket this year?
Auston "Power Play" Matthews, baby!
Matthews is your Man
Yup, last year’s Rocket Richard Trophy-winner is primed to repeat.
Matthews & Co. are on a mission to not repeat their ignominious defeat in the first-round of last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs. Nowhere is that more evident on the face and in the mature play of Matthews this season. He’s also surrounded by a cast of talented playmakers who have now gelled into a cohesive, point-getting squad.
The Maple Leafs also have games in hand on both the Rangers and Oilers, and are humming at a lethal 29.6% Power Play Goal (PPG) rate, good for first in the league, and are fourth overall in Goals-For per Game (GF/G), where they average 3.6 GF/G.
Combine those facts with the following: Matthews is the Leafs’ most dominant power play point-getter, tallying 20 points on the PP so far this year (11 goals and 19 assists). He also leads the team’s forwards with an average of 3:05 minutes of power play time on ice (PPTOI). It’s fair to say he should continue his scoring pace this year.
We’re not worried about the measly two goals he has to make up on Draisaitl. Bank on Matthews putting it into another gear for the last 38 games of the season.