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Despite goal No. 55, Matthews remains off 70-goal pace

Auston Matthews Toronto Maple Leafs Auston Matthews - The Canadian Press

Auston Matthews netted his 55th goal of the season in the Toronto Maple Leafs' 6-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday, but his recent cold stretch has tempered hopes for a 70-goal campaign. 

With 17 games remaining on the schedule, the Maple Leafs star is on pace for 69 goals, after his projected goal total soared above 75 at one point during his torrid month of February. 

Matthews has recorded only three goals in his past nine games. In the eight games before the recent cold spell he tallied 12.

Auston Matthews goals by month

Month Games played Goals scored
November  12 
December  12  15 
January  13  11 
February  12  13 

This isn't the superstar's first cold spell of the season, either. In an eight-game stretch from Oct. 16 - Nov. 2, Matthews recorded only two goals. And from Nov. 8 - Nov. 30, a nine-game stretch, he scored just one goal. 

But every time Matthews' pace has slowed this season, the response to break out of it has featured a flurry of goals: six in three games at the beginning of November, and 12 in nine games throughout December. 

The Leafs' upcoming schedule includes two of their next five games against the Carolina Hurricanes, who shut out Matthews in their only meeting of the year and have allowed the fourth fewest goals in the NHL this season as a team.

"The puck's not just going to go in all the time. I thought there were some good things. Obviously, I want to produce. I want to help the team and do my part," said Matthews ahead of Thursday's game against the Flyers. 

Oddsmakers at FanDuel are feeling less confident Matthews will surpass the 70-goal plateau this season through his current dry spell. 

On Feb. 22, Matthews was given +110 odds at FanDuel to surpass 70 goals - almost a 50-50 chance to do so. As of March 15, those odds have dropped to +330.

Matthews' odds of claiming a second career Hart Trophy have also dwindled in recent weeks. After sitting as high as +230 in the odds at FanDuel to take home the Hart Trophy in February, Matthews has drifted down to fourth in the league at +850 to win the award.

Hart Trophy odds per FanDuel

Matthews is having an impressive season, and he has now registered the two highest-scoring seasons in Maple Leafs franchise history. Additionally, with his 40th even-strength goal on Thursday, he becomes the only active player in the NHL to achieve that feat in two separate seasons. Not even Alexander Ovechkin, the NHL's second all-time leading scorer, has registered 40-or-more even-strength goals in multiple seasons.

Matthews still holds a nine-goal lead over Sam Reinhart of the Florida Panthers, giving him a very good chance to earn his third Rocket Richard Trophy. Only Ovechkin (nine) has earned more than two since the trophy was first awarded in 1998-99.