Let the good times roll! The replacement Leafs D-Core has inspired three straight wins, including two interdivisional games and a HNIC matchup with a salty Vancouver fanbase. To further the “good times” along, Auston Matthews has donned a terrific nickname on the team workhorse.
Another game and another massive win for the Leafs, this time over the Vancouver Canucks, widening their gap on Florida to five points as the season rapidly winds down toward the playoffs. Leading the way for the Leafs, or at least chipping in more than he should be accounted for is Zach Hyman, or…
Auston Matthews on Zach Hyman:
“They call him the Sidney Crosby of 6-on-5.”
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) March 1, 2020
With an empty-net goal to seal the win on Saturday, Zach Hyman moved to 21 goals, tying his highest seasonal total set last year, in 24 fewer games played. His spot on Matthews and Marner’s line has surely helped him secure these goals, but his grinding playstyle has really enabled him to put the puck in the net at an un-Hyman like pace this season.
The nickname is gold, though. “The Sidney Crosby of 6-on-5” just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? It’s fitting, though, as Hyman never cheats his team for effort ever, but puts the jets on that much more when the sight of an empty net opens up.
From (reportedly) asking for an upgrade on Hyman as a winger, to embracing him to create space and finish chances, Matthews owes a lot to Hyman for grinding out the forecheck for him on every shift. Matthews has adopted some grit in his game, possibly by osmosis from Hyman, and it’s showing in his Richard-esque season.
Good nicknames, good results, overcoming adversity, and deadset on the playoffs. The Leafs are still marauding forward, and the gelling of the team through the injury crisis they’ve had is nothing but purely positive, led, of course, by “the Sidney Crosby of 6-on-5.”