The conversation nobody wants to have about Auston Matthews

Dean Chaudhry
June 4, 2024  (11:29)

Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner celebrating a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Photo credit: Charles LeClaire - USA Today Sports

Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews both have disappointing playoff numbers but why does one receive more hate than the other?

The Toronto Maple Leafs lack of playoff success has made them a laughing stock around the NHL. When the post-season arrives, it almost seems like everyone expects them to fail and drop out of the first round. Understandably so, considering they have bowed out of the first round in 7 of the last 8 years while boasting a star-studded lineup that includes Matthews and Marner.
Both players have averaged nearly 1.3 points per game over the last 3 regular seasons. However, come playoff time, they both average a lower point per game pace in that same stretch. While those numbers aren't atrocious by any means, it's a stark contrast between their regular season numbers and why they haven't tasted a lick of success when it matters most. In totality, Matthews has 48 points in 55 playoff contests to Marner's 50 points in 57 games.
Marner received a lot of heat for his performance against Boston this year. With both Matthews and William Nylander nursing mysterious ailments, Marner was only able to muster up 1 goal and 2 assists in 7 games played. He did put up 14 points in 11 games last year, but between 2018-19 and 2020-21, Marner only scored 1 goal and 11 points in 19 games further pointing to his lack of post-season success.
Matthews, on the other hand, scored 1 goal and 4 points in 5 games this spring after a career-best 5 goals and 11 points last year. However, during the same time span (2018-2021), he scored 8 goals and 17 points in 19 games - a little better than Marner but not nearly enough to lead the team.
When you get MVP honours and are always in the conversation with the likes of Connor McDavid and Nathan MacKinnon, a lot more is expected when the playoffs arrive. MacKinnon has 37 goals and 85 points in 63 games over the last 5 years in the playoffs, McDavid has 28 goals and 95 points in 53 games and counting, while his running mate in Leon Draisaitl has added 35 goals and 88 points in 53 games. A monstrous difference to Matthews' 12 goals and 35 points in 35 games since 2019-20.
As we've seen this post-season, McDavid and Draisaitl have elevated their games to new heights and have pushed the Edmonton Oilers to the brink of qualifying for the Stanley Cup Finals. They have been otherworldly, MVP-esque, and straight up dominant, something the Maple Leafs and their fan base can't say about Matthews and Marner.
With Matthews locked up for the next 4 seasons and Marner's future in question, there is a lot more onus and pressure falling on the former MVP than his running mate. If the Leafs are to ever advance out of the second round and challenge for the Stanley Cup, Matthews has to find a way to elevate his game in the spring.
Chasing 70 goals in the regular season is all fine and dandy, but averaging only 0.36 goals per game since 2019 in the playoffs is not good enough, and it's long past due that fans criticize Matthews similarly to how they criticize Marner, purely based on his performance in the playoffs.
JUNE 4   |   518 ANSWERS
The conversation nobody wants to have about Auston Matthews

Who has been the bigger disappointment during the playoffs?

Auston Matthews6212 %
Mitch Marner21942.3 %
Both23745.8 %
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