Lightning’s Cooper thinks Matthews could score 70 goals in a season

Posted: 04/04/2022 in NHL
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Toronto Maple Leafs superstar Auston Matthews is looking to become the first player in a decade to score 60 goals in a season, but Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper thinks the sniper could reach even greater heights.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if some time in his career he gets 70. That’s how good of a scorer he is,” Cooper told reporters ahead of Monday’s Atlantic Division clash between the Leafs and Lightning, per TSN.

Matthews leads the league with 51 goals this season and is currently on pace for 62 tallies, despite missing five contests due to injury and suspension. He’s playing at a 66-goal pace over 82 games.

No player has reached the 70-goal plateau since Alexander Mogilny and Teemu Selanne each scored 76 in 1992-93.

Cooper, who coached Matthews as an assistant with Team North America at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, is impressed with the variety of ways the 24-year-old can light the lamp.

“Auston is probably the best in the league at changing his angle at a high rate of speed. So he is just not a traditional ‘here it’s on my stick, I’m going to shoot it,'” Cooper explained. “He shoots it from his ankles, he shoots it out wide, and it’s just the release and the velocity is big time.”

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos knows what it’s like to chase the 60-goal milestone, as he’s the last player to accomplish the feat in 2011-12.

“I did not want to finish at 59, that’s for sure,” Stamkos told reporters, reflecting on his 60-goal year. “People are like, ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter.’ Well, it matters when you get to that number. I mean, 49 or 59, that would haunt you I think, if you got stuck at that number.”

However, Stamkos said his 60-goal pursuit is different from Matthews’.

“It’s a little different situation,” he said. “We weren’t as good of a team as Toronto is at that time, so it was something that the guys were really going out of their way to do, but it was special getting the 60th.”

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