Will the Toronto Maple Leafs Rest Auston Matthews Before the Playoffs?

Toronto Maple Leafs v Montreal Canadiens
Toronto Maple Leafs v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

On Saturday night, Toronto Maple Leafs superstar Auston Matthews tied Connor McDavid with the second most goals in a single season in the salary cap era.

Matthews is not just chasing Alex Ovechkin's 65-goals he scored in 2007-08, but he is making a late season push to become just the ninth player in the history of the National Hockey League to become a 70-goal scorer; so the Toronto Maple Leafs will have to ponder whether to rest Matthews down the stretch.

Matthews would have to score seven goals over the final seven games to become the first player since Alex Mogilny and Teemu Selanne in 1992-93 to score 70-goals in one season.

Seven goals in seven games seems plausible, yet unlikely for most players, however Matthews is not like most players. Seven goals in seven games is not out of the norm for the former first overall pick, and is more on par with what he does multiple times every season.

Will the Toronto Maple Leafs Rest Auston Matthews Before the Playoffs?

Currently, Matthews is on a four-game goal scoring streak where he has collected five goals, and has also scored nine goals over his last nine games.

Now that we have established that the feat is a possibility we have to talk about one thing that could cause Matthews not being able to score 70 (outside of going cold). The debate media and fans have been having is whether coach Sheldon Keefe will decide to keep the Arizona native out of the line-up for one, if not more games to rest him for the playoffs.

The Leafs play their final six games of the season in ten days, so a rest would perhaps be the smart choice.

My belief is that Matthews will likely be in the line-up for each of the next seven games and the reasoning behind my thought process is that I think Keefe has already been resting Matthews down the stretch by managing his minutes. (stats nhl.com).

Through his first 70-games of the season the big center had averaged 21:08 each night, however over his last five games Matthews has played that amount just once while the four other games he has skated in under 19:10 including just 16:21 against the Buffalo Sabres.

With the Maple Leafs finally starting to get healthy, it is more important to have the entire team get familiar with their new lines, along with the new defensive pairings. By taking Matthews out of the line-up, you don't allow Keefe to get an honest look at having his big three players on separate lines while also taking Matthews out of his rhythm.


I'd count on seeing Matthews in each of the remaining games, however, likely seeing his ice-time under 18 minutes.