Quarter Season: Matthews vs Caufield

By JD Lagrange – Well, we have reached the quarter mark of the NHL 2022-23 season. There are plenty of surprises and deceptions to go around. For one, raise your hand if you thought that 21 games into the season, the Montreal Canadiens would be two games above .500, ahead of the Florida Panthers and two points from a Wild Card spot? Or that the New Jersey Devils would be second in the Eastern Conference? How many had Dallas’ Jason Robertson being second to Connor McDavid in the NHL scoring race?

Just for fun, how many people thought that Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki would both have three more goals than… Auston Matthews? What? Yes, that’s right! Let’s take a deeper look into that one, just for fun. Keep in mind, we’re looking at the 21 games mark here, so we’re not counting Toronto’s 22nd game against Minnesota last night although for the record, Matthews was held pointless. The Habs haven’t played their 22nd game yet.

Teams stats

First, let’s set the table, shall we? We must look at the teams’ stats, as the success or depth of a team will inevitably affect a player’s individual’s statistics as well.

TORONTOMONTREAL
21GP21
11W11
5L9
5OT1
27PTS23
.643PTS %.548
61GF65
55GA73
26.5%PP %16.4%
107:20PP TIME102:00
78.6%PK %80.0%
30.3Shots/GP30.4
28.5SA/GP33.3
  • As we can see, there’s no doubt that the Leafs have a more effective power play than the Habs so far. It is important to note that they have also played almost five and a half minutes more with the man advantage than Martin St-Louis’ team.
  • I don’t know about you but I find surprising to see that the Canadiens score a bit more than the Maple Leafs. But boy do the Habs allow a lot of goals! Perhaps, it’s because they also allow a lot of shots, but with two backup goaltenders and such a young defense, it’s not alarming… yet.

Matthews vs Caufield

Now, to the nitty gritty. In the red corner, weighing in a 174 pounds, 5-foot 7-inches tall, the sophomore sensation, the challenger, Cole Caufield! His opponent, in the blue corner, weighing in a 208 pounds, 6-foot 3-inches tall, the pride and joy of Toronto-based media, the reigning Rocket Richard Trophy winner, Auston Matthews!

Without further ado, here are the two players’ statistics after 21 games.

MATTHEWSCAUFIELD
25AGE21
6’3″HEIGHT5’7″
208WEIGHT174
21GP21
9G12
12A9
21PTS21
1.00PTS/GP1.00
+1+/-0
3EVG10
10EV PTS17
6PPG2
11PP PTS4
20:34TOI/GP18:05
16:46EV TOI/GP15:05
3:46PP TOI/GP3:01
79:00PP TOI63:14
89SHOTS78
10.1%SH%15.4%
24GvA9
21TkA6
$11,640,250CAP HIT$880,833
  • Note that Caufield, in spite of being much smaller in stature, has a substantial advantage in his production at even strengths. Matthews loves when his team is on the power play. One would think that it would be reverse, right?
  • And look how much more time the Leafs’ center has spend on the power play than Caufield. Cut that time and make it equal, chances are you have even less production from Matthews, if you keep his goals by 60 minutes equal.
  • I won’t get in too much details about the cap hit since Caufield is still on his entry level contract. But you can be assured that he won’t make $11.6 million. Think more in the range of Nick Suzuki, between $7.5 to $8 million.
  • It appears as though Matthews is better at retrieving the puck, although one could argue that perhaps, you don’t have the puck when you have to take it away from your opponent. But look at the giveaways… that’s not in the same ball park.

Dynamic duos

I figured, why not bring in Mitch Marner and Nick Suzuki into the equation, as they are the dynamic duos of each team. For this exercise, I have added their production and salaries, and averaged their combined ice time.

MATTHEWS/MARNERCAUFIELD/SUZUKI
25AVG AGE22
21GP21
13G24
32A21
45PTS45
2.14PTS/GP2.14
+2+/-+3
7EVG17
23EV PTS34
6PPG6
21PP PTS10
21:06TOI/GP (AVG)19:23
16:13EV TOI/GP (AVG)15:37
3:41PP TOI/GP (AVG)3:05
154:19PP TOI129:13
132SHOTS124
9.8%SH%19.4%
51GvA23
43TkA16
$22,543,250CAP HIT$8,755,833
Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield
  • Once again, we notice the same tendency as we see in the teams’ stats and the Matthews/Caufield comparison. The difference is the amount of time on the power play and the production at even strength versus with the man advantage. Although both duos have a combined six goals with the man advantage, the Leafs’ duo has more points.
  • But also, look at the shots percentage. The Canadiens’ duo is just under 10% more efficient, selective and successful in finding the back of the net when shooting the puck.
  • The trend with giveaways and takeaways is the same as what we’ve noticed in the Caufield vs Matthews comparison. The Leafs’ duo is coughing up the puck more, therefore having to retrieve it more too. Caufield and Suzuki are better at protecting and keeping the puck, and are twice more effective at not giving it away.

All in all, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as you can make stats say whatever you want, and people do. But force is to admit that so far this season, the Canadiens are very happy with what they have in Suzuki and Caufield and the fact that we can put those two guys against the Leafs’ duo speaks for their skills and progression.

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By The Numbers: Draisaitl vs Matthews

By JD Lagrange – It doesn’t take much for the never-ending rivalry between Toronto and Montreal, whether it’s about politics or hockey, to be fuelled. When it comes to their NHL team, we’re likely talking about the two biggest fanbases in the league and with it, come more opinions and, let’s call a spade a spade, stupid and trolling comments.

To make matters worse, the three major anglophone media outlets covering hockey – TSN, Sportsnet and CBC – are all based in… Toronto. And boy do their lean heavily on the Maple Leafs. That in itself is enough to make the Leafs the most hated team by rival Canadian fanbases.

One of the biggest proof of this one-sided bias is the push to try to make of Auston Matthews the best player on all Canadian teams. Few outside Toronto (or their fanbase) think that, but they sure try to convince us otherwise, don’t they? Just in Edmonton alone, there are two players not getting anywhere close to the credit they deserve. One of these players is miles ahead of Matthews. His name? You might have heard of a guy named Connor McDavid. Then, the Oilers line-up the equivalent of Matthews in Leon Draisaitl.

With Edmonton’s playoffs’ push, many fans out East are finally noticing Edmonton’s two-headed monster. This further exposes the media’s bias towards the Leafs’ player. Oh don’t get me wrong, he’s an excellent goals’ scorer. But he’s nowhere in the category of McDavid. You want to compare Toronto’s jewel to someone and make a fair comparison. Look no further than Draisaitl.

Last season

We will compare the two players in three parts, to be fair. First, let’s look at what both Draisaitl and Matthews have done this past season.

DRAISAITLMATTHEWS
6’2″HEIGHT6’3″
208 lbsWEIGHT205 lbs
3rd overall 2014DRAFT1st overall 2016
80GP73
55G60
55A46
110PTS106
1.38PTS/GP1.45
22:21TOI/GP20:37
3:50PP TOI/GP3:06
0:57SH TOI/GP0:04
885FO WON691
53.3FO %56.2
$8.5MCAP HIT$11.64

For those who claim that Draisaitl benefits from playing with McDavid, the following should be an eye opener and completely destroys that theory. Here are the percentages of ice time at even strength for both players:

  • This season, Matthews has spent 60.5% of the time with Mitch Marner on his line.
  • On the other hand, Draisaitl has played only 24% of the time with Connor McDavid.

Last three years

One season doesn’t make a career, right? Let’s move on to the second level of comparison. Here are the two players’ regular season’s stats for the past three seasons combined.

DRAISAITLMATTHEWS
207GP195
129G148
175A104
304PTS252
1.47PTS/GP1.29
22:24TOI/GP20:59
3:57PP TOI/GP3:10
0:50SH TOI/GP0:05
2,120FO WON1,647
53.5FO %54.6

Playoffs

Now if you add the playoffs, the third and last part of the comparison, the gap gets even deeper in favour of Draisaitl.

DRAISAITLMATTHEWS
32GP39
18G17
31A16
49PTS33
1.53PTS/GP0.85
21:47TOI/GP21:19
4:01PP TOI/GP3:18
0:37SH TOI/GP0:02
285FO WON335
48.8FO %53.3

Prior to tonight’s game five against the Calgary Flames, the Oilers have played 11 games. McDavid leads the playoffs with 25 points, followed by Draisaitl with 22. The next player (Evander Kane and Nikita Kucherov) are seven points back with 15 each!

So when you hear the Toronto media ram your brain with Matthews this, and Matthews that, when they try to make you believe that he’s as good or even better than Connor McDavid, do as many of us do: smile, shake your head, and know that they’re just feeding the ego of Toronto, their advertisers’ market. As clearly, he’s an excellent player but more in the category of Leon Draisaitl.

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