Auston Matthews Status a Mystery Ahead of Toronto Maple Leafs Game 7

The Toronto Maple Leafs will try to prevent recent history from repeating itself when they meet the Boston Bruins for Game 7. The Bruins have won six consecutive playoff series against the Leafs; the last three came in a deciding game.
Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs
Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs / Claus Andersen/GettyImages

The Toronto Maple Leafs hope to avoid history repeating itself. For the fourth time in the past 11 years, the Maple Leafs will face the Boston Bruins in a decisive, win-or-go-home, Game 7.

The Bruins won the last three playoff meetings, all in Boston. In 2013, the Leafs blew a three-goal, third-period lead and lost 5-4 in overtime. In 2018, the Bruins outscored the Maple Leafs 4-0 in the third period to win 7-4. In 2019, the Bruins cruised to a 5-1 victory in the deciding game.

In 2013 and 2018, the Leafs recovered from 3-1 series deficits before losing Game 7. In 2019, Toronto led the series three games to two but lost Games 6 and 7.

Those losses to the Bruins are part of five consecutive Game 7 defeats for the Leafs. That's a lot of negative mojo to overcome for some of Toronto's core players, but the Bruins are trying to avoid a historical blemish of their own.

After earning the President's Trophy in record-setting fashion in 2022-2023, the Bruins blew a 3-1 first-round series lead against the Florida Panthers. If they lose to the Leafs, they would become the first team in NHL, NBA, or MLB history to blow a 3-1 advantage in back-to-back seasons.

Put it all together, and it is a must-see viewing. It will be fascinating to see the storylines unfold.

Which Team Has More Pressure?

The Leafs most important players have seven years of playoff failures hanging over them and play in a hockey-mad market starving for postseason success. Having lost two games in a row, the Bruins face scrutiny over another possible collapse.

The Maple Leafs face certain upheaval should they lose this game. Eight consecutive seasons with only one series victory is likely to result in major changes, either head coach Sheldon Keefe getting fired, a core player getting moved, or both.

A week ago, the carcass of the Leafs was already starting to be picked over. They were humiliated on home ice and lost their best player, Auston Matthews, for the next two games.

Then, the tide turned with the decision to start goaltender Joseph Woll over Ilya Samsonov. With it, the Leafs played some of their most defensively sound games of the year, backed by a goalie who plays with a quiet, calm confidence.

Scoring the first goal in an NHL hockey game is a significant determinant of the game's result. In this matchup, it will be crucial. Equally important will be the reaction of the team that gets behind. Will either the Leafs or Bruins succumb to the pressure should they fall behind?

Which Players Will Rise to the Occasion?

The history of deciding games is full of heroes and goats. Which players will step up?

The Leafs and Bruins have both been getting incredible goaltending. It would not surprise if Woll or Jeremy Swayman starred once again.

Whose star players will shine brightest? Mitch Marner has picked up his game. Auston Matthews and William Nylander have each led the Leafs to wins. Brad Marchand has done the same for Boston. David Pastrnak was called out by his coach. Expect one of these players to play a significant role in their team winning.

Down the roster players often also have their time to shine in deciding games. For the Leafs, Matthew Knies has a knack for coming up big in critical moments. Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi have also played a large role in getting the Leafs back in the series.

Must-Dos For the Leafs to Emerge Victorious

The biggest advantage for the Leafs would be to get Auston Matthews into the lineup, but as of publication his status remains a mystery.

With or without Matthews, the Leafs have a checklist of items to win.

The home crowd will be amped up for the Bruins. The Leafs need to weather the expected early buzz that Boston gets from their fans. Nothing negates that advantage better than scoring first.

Next, the Maple Leafs must win the special teams battle. Their dry spell on the power play can't continue. Not scoring with the man advantage will eventually catch up to them. The improved penalty-killing also must proceed.

The grit, resolve, and mental fortitude need to continue in Game 7. This team has demonstrated it often throughout the year. Shot blocking, discipline, taking and delivering hits, are all necessary.


For all of their inconsistencies this season, the Toronto Maple Leafs have steadfastly recovered and bounced back. In Game 7, they have the chance to do it again and alter some history while they are at it.