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Report: Auston Matthews unlikely for the Maple Leafs in Game 5

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Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
1 month ago
Chris Johnston and Jonas Siegel of The Athletic are reporting that it is unlikely that Auston Matthews will be available for Game 5 in Boston based on a combination of injury and illness.
The crux of the report is this:
“Matthews has been battling an illness and was forced to sit out the third period of Saturday’s Game 4 against the Boston Bruins. According to sources, he is also believed to be nursing an undisclosed injury, which made it more likely than not that he wouldn’t be able to play Tuesday with the Leafs trailing 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.”
Matthews put in some brief work before the Leafs’ morning skate on Tuesday but left before the full practice. Sheldon Keefe has alluded to the condition getting worse as Matthews’ continues to exert himself and that there certainly hasn’t been any improvement since Saturday night.
The decision is being left in the Leafs’ team doctor’s hands and while Auston continues to push himself to see if playing is plausible, and unquestionably Matthews wants to be a part of the Leafs final stand against the Bruins, the reports from within the Leafs organization aren’t encouraging.
The Leafs seem to be preparing for themselves for the worst in support of this. Previous Auston Matthews absences from practice featured either Nick Robertson or Connor Dewar filling the interim role of 1C for practice line rushes, but the past two days have seen Max Domi between Tyler Bertuzzi and Mitch Marner, a proper line and the one that the Leafs leaned on against the Bruins in the third period of Game 4. Additionally Domi has been moved up to the top powerplay unit replacing Matthews as well.
With the Leafs already down 3-1 in the series, losing their Rocket Richard winning first line centre is a setback Toronto could have done without. And given the reports regarding Matthews health there doesn’t seem to be room for optimism regarding his status for Game 6 if it comes to that either.
Matthews will likely miss just his second game of the year and the first playoff game of his career.
The Leafs face the Bruins at 7pm ET Tuesday in Boston.

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