Auston Matthews illness update: Latest news on Maple Leafs star’s status for Game 7 vs. Bruins

The Maple Leafs find themselves in all too familiar territory as they head back to Boston for Game 7: on the verge of elimination at the hands of the Bruins.

Toronto’s quest for its first playoff series win over Boston since 1959 suffered a devastating blow on Saturday when the Bruins cruised to a 3-1 road win and extended their series lead to 3-1. Even more concerning for the Maple Leafs was Auston Matthews’ early exit. 

Matthews didn’t return for the third period, though Toronto was already trailing 3-0 by that point. Any hope of a massive comeback was still dealt a huge blow by the absence of the NHL’s leading goal scorer from this regular season.

The star center missed Game 5 on Tuesday and Game 6 on Thursday, however, the Leafs came through without Matthews. The team was able to keep their season alive with a 2-1 overtime win in Game 5, followed by another 2-1 win on Thursday, forcing a winner-take-all Game 7. 

Here’s an update on Matthews’ status heading into a vital Game 7 on Saturday.

MORE: Updated look at NHL playoff bracket

Will Auston Matthews play in Game 7?

Matthews is set to return for the Maple Leafs for Game 7. 

He was a participant at the team’s skate on Saturday ahead of Game 7, and was out for warmups ahead of Saturday’s elimination game, signaling his first action since exiting Game 4. 

Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said after the session that there was no update on his status, however one tidbit seemed to hint that Matthews would not be available. Keefe stated that the team would be “proceeding as we’ve been” ahead of Game 7. 

The Maple Leafs also made things more vague during the skate. The team did not run lines at the practice, nor did they assign out colors for each respective forward lines, which is a typical occurrence for a hockey team.

It could have been a ploy so that the Bruins did not get any extra insight into who will be dressing tonight for the Leafs. 

Matthews also skated on Friday ahead of the final game of the first-round series. 

The Maple Leafs were just 15-18-3 when Matthews was held without a goal in the regular season, as opposed to 31-8-7 when he did score. That trend has continued into the playoffs, and Keefe’s group has suffered when Matthews isn’t finding the back of the net. 

Auston Matthews illness update

The former Hart Trophy winner is dealing with an illness, not an injury, according to coach Sheldon Keefe.

Keefe revealed before Game 4 that Matthews dealt with an illness leading up to the matchup, forcing him to take it easy in practices. Keefe added after the loss that team doctors pulled Matthews before the third period.

“It’s all related to the illness he’s been dealing with,” Keefe told reporters, downplaying the idea that Matthews was battling anything more severe.

There aren’t any more details available on Matthews’ condition, but he saw more than 14 minutes of ice time between the first two periods.

Keefe gave a few more details on Sunday about the bug his star player is dealing with. 

“For whatever reason, it’s not one of those run-of-the-mill everyday type of illnesses that sort of come and go,” Keefe said. “This one has lingered. The affects have lingered and gotten worse when he gets on the ice and is asserting himself.”

Matthews has gotten on the scoreboard in only one of the Maple Leafs’ four games against the Bruins in this series, recording a goal and two assists in Toronto’s Game 2 win.

He missed Games 5 and 6 due to the illness. Game 7 is set for Saturday in Boston. 

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