Battle of the Continents: Matthews vs Laine

While hockey fans the world over are buzzing about Auston Matthews and his four-goal NHL debut, Patrik Laine is being cast to the wayside. Here's why you shouldn't forget about him. 


Toronto Maple Leafs @ Winnipeg Jets starts at 8pm ET, 1am UK Time, at the MTS Centre.

After impressive overseas seasons, Patrik Laine and Auston Matthews are two names to watch. The hockey world recently lost its mind when Auston Matthews buried four goals in his NHL debut, but what about Patrik Laine? He is only two points behind Matthews and has just as much skill and ice smarts to become a legend.

First off, let me just say that watching Matthews get those four goals was like watching history being made. Even people who are strongly opposed to anything Leafs related took the time to watch this young player outwit seasoned NHL veterans.

If Matthews keeps playing the way he’s playing, he is pretty much guaranteed to have a collection of trophies by the end of his career. He’s careful, deliberate and precise in his style of play. Perhaps what is most noticeable about his style of play is his composure: after scoring four goals in his first game with the Leafs, the rookie barely cracked a smile.

Even in the post-game interview after an impressive start, Matthews remained composed, if not critical of himself after the Leafs lost to the Senators in over-time.

“That last play was 100 per cent my fault,” he said, per NHL.com. “Obviously we came here to win and we didn’t get that done, so it’s a good learning point for myself and the team.”

After coming off of a 46-point season in 36 in Switzerland’s top professional league, Matthews knows what it takes to be successful. He also scored seven goals at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship in Finland, which contributed to him being tied for team lead in points with 11.

Laine, however, had a slightly more successful IIHF World Championship run than Matthews. The Finnish player ended with seven goals and 12 points, which led to him being named MVP for Finland, which eventually went on to take home the silver medal in the tournament.

He was a member of the Finnish team when they won the gold medal at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship, which led to him earning a spot on Team Finland for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. 

Where Matthews is critical of his performance, Laine is looking to play to the best of his abilities. He said in an interview with CBC that he doesn’t think there will be a rivalry between him and Matthews.

“In my opinion, no. I don’t need a rivalry,” he said. “I have to play as good as I can and that’s my job and I want to focus on that.”

Two different styles of play. Two different players. The hockey world has every reason to be excited over the phenom that is Matthews, but they shouldn’t count Laine out just yet. The season is still young.

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