John Tavares notched four more goals against Florida moving him into second-place in the NHL and putting the question in Leafs Nation’s minds: Can Tavares be a 50 goal scorer?
Should Tavares find the back of the net five more times this season, he’ll join a small, elite list of Maple Leafs players.
First up is the three-time 50+goal scorer, Rick Vaive. The 20th best Maple Leaf, as ranked by the team last season, is the only three-time 50+ goal scorer in the team’s history. He did so from 1981-1984 with 54, 51, and 52 goals in that time period.
Next is Gary Leeman, the junior defenseman turned pro right-winger. He only reached the 50-goal mark once, 51 in ’89-’90, but etched himself in the annals of Maple Leafs history as the first since the great Rick Vaive.
Lastly, you have the great Dave Andreychuk, who is the most recent Maple Leafs to nab 50 goals. Andreychuk did so on two occasions, 54 in the ’92-’93 season, and 53 in ’93-’94. Pivotal in the early 90s’ playoff runs, Andreychuk is a shining example for Tavares to follow.
With just 6 games remaining in the season, Tavares will have a tough task getting those five goals that he’s gunning for. That being said, his opposition does show some weak points.
The two games to circle are the next two up: Philadelphia and Ottawa. Phili has a solid D-core, but they are very young and prone to valuing offense over defense. That leaves Tavares to contend with a revolving door of “just okay” (thank you Randy Carlisle) to contend with.
Ottawa is up and down. They showed in their shellacking of the Maple Leafs earlier this month that they can plan, but if Tavares is clicking like he was last night, there’s no reason he can’t pot against them, too.
Outside of those two games, the Leafs play the Islanders, Hurricanes, Lightning, and Habs. All of these teams are vying for playoff positioning (outside of the Lightning), and all will challenge the Leafs in their perspective playoff tune-ups.
Good thing Tavares has a propensity to score against any opponent, anyway! For me the perfect way this plays out is two against Phili, two against Ottawa, and his fiftieth against the Islanders.
It’ll be tough, but I have all the faith in the world that John Tavares will continue to raise his level of play and accomplish this feat.