Max Domi has quickly become the perfect linemate for Auston Matthews

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
15 days ago
Auston Matthews has played with some very skilled players throughout his eight-year Maple Leafs’ career, and even though Max Domi is currently playing his off wing, the third position he’s played in his first season in Toronto, Domi is the absolute perfect linemate for the Leafs’ best player.
I have to start by saying I was always driving the bus on Mitch Marner being the best-suited winger for Matthews. Whenever the William Nylander/Marner debate would be brought up I would always lean to Marner’s passing abilities and his willingness to dish Matthews the puck in open areas, whereas meanwhile, Nylander isn’t near the playmaker and often misses Matthews looking for the one-timer because he’s too busy trying to score himself. While Marner is the better player over Domi if we’re talking a complete 200-foot game, Domi is the best linemate the team can offer Matthews and a big reason is because he doesn’t mind being a security guard when the time presents itself. Just ask New Jersey Devils young defenceman Simon Nemec:
Domi was asked after the game what he saw on the play and why he decided to throw 100 uppercuts at a 20-year-old rookie, and had this to say on the matter:
“To be honest, like, the corner of my eye I just saw Auston & whoever the other guy on Jersey was battling & wasn’t a fan of that so went over.”
Matthews was also asked about the incident and what it’s been like playing alongside Domi, with whom he’s become fast friends off the ice, and you can tell the chemistry is off the charts with these two as he continues to be surprised by Domi’s skill set each game:
“That’s what he’s all about. He’s a team-first guy & he’s always going to stick up for his teammates. I didn’t think he had to do that, but obviously he felt the need to & I’m always appreciative of guys standing up for one another & myself as well. He’s an incredible teammate, incredible person. I love playing with him, and he’s gonna compete every night (Asked about his second goal, which was assisted by Domi)…probably one of the most underrated passers in the league. Just tried to have a heavy stick on the back post. He can thread a seam as good as anybody … just a beautiful, beautiful play by him.”
With the Stanley Cup Playoffs around the corner and Keefe having to figure out exactly how he’s going to align his lineup for Game 1, Domi’s literally fighting to stay on Matthews’ wing and at this point, you can’t split them up considering how much production not only is coming out of Domi, but also Tyler Bertuzzi, who compliments these two perfectly. The trio has been one of the best lines in hockey of late.
Bertuzzi doesn’t have to do anything flashy but get to the corners and get in front of the net into the mixer, and he’s a crafty enough passer where he’s able to get the puck back to Domi’s stick or find Matthews when he’s open. It’s been a treat to watch and it allows for Keefe to balance out the lineup. I would be opposed to moving Nylander up to play his off-wing with Marner and John Tavares on the second line, depending on if the team needs a spark on offence or if Keefe even starts the group like that. It would mean there are several players on their ‘off wing’ but if they are more than capable, who cares what hand they shoot? It also gives the Maple Leafs a powerful top six and presents matchup problems come playoff time.
Back to Domi, his ability to think the game the same way as Matthews, not waste any time feeding him the puck and also some intangibles like throwing hands when need be, it all adds up to a perfect linemate for the league’s best goal scorer. What more could Matthews ask for? He’s getting fed the puck in his favorite areas of the ice and he doesn’t have to worry about anyone bothering him on the ice.
The Maple Leafs have a lot to work out in the next week. Ilya Samsonov needs to bounce back and find his groove again throughout their last three games, the special teams are lost at the moment and that certainly needs to be cleaned up, however, one thing that should be set in stone for Keefe and the Leafs is the fact Domi has played himself onto Matthews’ hip and shouldn’t be coming off his wing anytime soon.

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