The Reason Behind Auston Matthews Killing Penalties Revealed

Dawson Mckenzie
September 26, 2023  (11:31)

Auston Matthews has been tasked with a new role this offseason, killing penalties, and the Leafs recently revealed why they want their star on the ice in man-down situations.

Matthews Already a Top Defensive Forward and Leafs Will Capitalize on His Size and Defensive Skill

Auston Matthews has all of the makings of a great penalty killer. He has the ability to knock down pucks, win faceoffs, and strip opposing players of possession. He also blocks a decent amount of shots, leading NHL forwards last season.
Matthews is excited and wants to be used on the Penalty Kill as well. He had the following to say about his new role.
"You're down a man, but at the same time, like, it's hockey," Matthews says. "It's a lot of anticipation, a lot of reads, and stuff like that. I feel like I got a good stick and can break up plays. I'd love to be utilized on it.

"The more reps I get, the more comfortable I'll get. And we got some pretty good penalty-killers on the team already that I can lean on to ask questions."

Matthews and Marner Turn the Penalty Kill into a Power Kill

Having Matthews and Marner on the ice together to kill penalties also gives the Leafs an important edge, and the threat of them creating scoring chances could be a real deterrent for opposing powerplays.
Matthews likens it to playing against the Bruins and Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
"When you go out there against guys like [Patrice] Bergeron and [Brad] Marchand on the penalty kill, it definitely makes you think a little bit more. Just because not only are they very good offensively, but defensively they can knock pucks out of the air and stuff like that force you to make plays in tough positions and transition the other way," Matthews explains.

"Obviously, we're not trying to score every time we're [killing a penalty], but there's definitely a lot of opportunity there and something that I definitely want to embrace. Another challenge for myself, but something that I'm very open to — and I hope it works out."

As for timing, the Leafs have just lost three of their mainstay penalty killers in Alex Kerfoot, Noel Acciari, and Ryan O'Reilly. The hole in the roster leaves an opportunity for Matthews to cement his name in the Selke conversation.
As seen on Sportsnet - "Why the Maple Leafs are turning Auston Matthews into a penalty killer"
The Reason Behind Auston Matthews Killing Penalties Revealed

Will Matthews play on the PK this year for the Leafs?

Yes20751.4 %
No7719.1 %
Sometimes11929.5 %
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