Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews out for Game 6: What we’re hearing about his injury and timeline

The Toronto Maple Leafs need to win another game without Auston Matthews to extend their season and give their top scorer a chance to be healthy enough to return.

It’s still unclear whether that could happen in Game 7, if the Maple Leafs beat the Boston Bruins on Thursday.

According to multiple sources briefed on the matter, the Leafs are taking a day-by-day approach to Matthews’ recovery. He hasn’t yet been ruled out for anything beyond Game 6, but he obviously faces a significant problem of missing two potential playoff games.

A source briefed on the matter said Matthews playing a potential Game 7 was unlikely. Another said the team was uncertain at this point.

Given the highly secretive nature of how teams operate during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it’s difficult to get specific details about what ails Matthews.

What is known is that the 26-year-old played through illness in Games 3 and 4 of the series before getting injured on a harmless hit while playing sick, according to sources. Team doctors removed Matthews from the lineup during the second intermission of Game 4 and he has not been able to participate in a full team practice since.

Although Matthews has been on the ice each of the past three days – he participated in a 30-minute session with members of the player development team at Scotiabank Arena on Thursday morning – one of the sources said that it would be “reckless” of him. try to play with anything that bothers him.

In a video shot by The Hockey News during Thursday’s session, Matthews can be seen performing drills in which he tips pucks, rocks them, throws passes and takes one-timers. He also skated a lot more than in a brief on-ice session at TD Garden before Game 5 Tuesday morning.

This felt like progress.

The Leafs extended their season without him in the lineup for a 2-1 overtime victory Tuesday in Boston. Max Domi took Matthews’ spot on the top line between Mitch Marner and Tyler Bertuzzi and went 12-2 on faceoffs while picking up an assist.

“The Domes stepped up,” said teammate Matthew Knies, Toronto’s overtime winner. “I think guys like that can just step in and play those roles. I think we collectively played a team game and found a way to win.

Added Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe: “It’s a bit of a human nature thing. You recognize that everyone has to be better (when a player of this caliber is missing).

Earlier in the series, Bruins coach Jim Montgomery praised Matthews’ work ethic and called him the most dangerous man on the ice. It was the day after he scored the game-winning goal and added two assists in Toronto’s Game 2 victory at TD Garden.

“Top scorer in the league since he arrived,” Montgomery said Thursday morning. “Great player. But they played very well without him in the last game.

The Leafs played just one game without Matthews during the regular season — beating Pittsburgh 7-0 on Dec. 16 while he was ill — and never saw him miss any playoff action during of his eight-year NHL career.

It was a tough series health-wise for Toronto, which was without William Nylander for the first three games due to an undisclosed issue after seeing him dress for every game during the regular season.

Winger Bobby McMann also did not play at all against the Bruins due to a lower body injury suffered on April 13.

But the most irreplaceable player on the Leafs roster is undoubtedly Matthews, who is coming off a 69-goal season. The team has scored just nine goals in the five-game series, although Boston isn’t taking anything for granted.

“It’s like when Nylander was out,” Bruins defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. “Maybe it changes the dynamic of their team. But they are all powerful weapons. Auston is definitely the most dangerous man on the ice when he’s out there. But I don’t think their game changed that much in the last game. Overall, they were just desperate.

“If he had been in the lineup, it probably would have been more of the same.”

Unfortunately for the Leafs, they may have to get used to playing without him to turn this into an extended playoff run.

(Photo: Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

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