The Toronto Maple Leafs will be without their best player and leading goal scorer Auston Matthews tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers, head coach Sheldon Keefe told reporters Tuesday morning.
This is the second game in a row that Matthews has missed since sustaining the injury in Saturday night’s contest where the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Ottawa Senators.
The actual injury to this point is still unknown, but Keefe has said that is minor and considered “day to day.”
The Toronto Maple Leafs will just have to make do against the 29th ranked Flyers without him.
No Auston Matthews for the Toronto Maple Leafs
Matthews missing two straight games shouldn’t be any cause for major concern. The Islanders are a physical team that had nothing to lose and the Flyers are in the Shane Wright sweepstakes. Playing Matthews in these games when the Leafs place in the Atlantic division is very stable doesn’t make much sense.
Matthews was seen on the ice early today before the Leafs optional morning skate with Rasmus Sandin and Ondrej Kase. He’s fine. The Leafs are just being cautious. Expect to see him soon. It is unfortunate that these absences will effectively kill any small chance he had at winning the Art Ross.
With a six point lead on the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division, the Leafs are 8-1-1 in their last ten games coming into Tuesday night’s matchup against the Flyers, who are 2-8 in their last 10 with five straight losses.
The last time these two teams faced each other, the Leafs decided about halfway through the second period to start taking the game seriously and would end up winning 6-3. The most notable storyline coming into that game was Keith Yandle’s iron man streak ending after being a healthy scratch for that game against Toronto.
With Matthews out of the picture and the circumstances surrounding the sub-par Flyers, expect more experimentation to start Tuesday’s game. We could see Nick Abruzzese finally get some consistent minutes tonight.
William Nylander appears to be out of the Sheldon Keefe doghouse and will most likely be on the second line tonight. Nylander has been on a tear recently, with new life on all 200-feet of the ice.
While Keefe did split up Bunting and Marner, he did put them back together with Tavares against New York, so expect to see that again. Winning tonight wouldn’t be a “statement” win by any means, but the Leafs need to take an easy two points when the chance rises.
With back-to-back road games against the Lightning and Florida Panthers, the Leafs need these two points to keep home ice against the Lightning come playoff time.