Leafs unveil new lines without Auston Matthews for Game 5

Dean Chaudhry
April 29, 2024  (2:58 PM)

Auston Matthews celebrating a goal being scored
Photo credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie - USA Today Sports

Game 5 is almost upon us and it seems like the Maple Leafs are preparing for the possibility of Auston Matthews being unavailable based on their practice lines.

The team's leading goal scorer and arguably their most impactful player was forced out of Game 4 due to an ongoing illness that is so severe that he was actually pulled by team doctors, who would not clear him to return. Down by 3 goals in the third period, the Leafs were not able to mount a comeback.
So with Matthews' status uncertain for Game 5 and with the Maple Leafs on the brink of elimination, Keefe was forced to put his lines in the blender at pracrice on Monday. As of this morning, the forward lines looked as follows:
Bertuzzi - Domi - Marner
Knies - Tavares - Nylander
Robertson - Holmberg - Jarnkrok
Dewar - Kampf - Reaves
Defensively, it looks like only one change was made, as T.J. Brodie was back on the "4th pair" with Mark Giordano, while Timothy Liljegren returned to the 3rd pair with Joel Edmundson. Morgan Rielly and Ilya Lyubuskin have remained on the top pair, followed by Simon Benoit and Jake McCabe on the 2nd pair.
Mark Masters also mentioned that when Matthews missed Friday's practice, Connor Dewar took his place on the top line. With Dewar skating on the fourth line today instead of being a potential placeholder, it seems more and more likely that Matthews will be unavailable.
There is some slight bit of optimism as Matthews will be travelling with the club according to Keefe. With an extra day between games, that could give him the added rest and recharge to get over whatever the lingering illness may be. They are "hopeful" he feels better and he finished things off by saying "we'll see what tomorrow brings."
If the Leafs are to be without Matthews' services, it will be all hands on deck for the remaining core players to step up with the team down 3 games to 1 in the series. Max Domi will be tasked in centering the top line, Mitch Marner will look to rebound after his unacceptable performance, and the likes of John Tavares and William Nylander are going to have to find ways to beat Jeremy Swayman if they want to force a Game 6 and bring the series back to Scotiabank Arena.
29 AVRIL   |   779 ANSWERS
Leafs unveil new lines without Auston Matthews for Game 5

Can the Maple Leafs force a Game 6 without Matthews in the lineup?

Yes, they still have enough skilled players45458.3 %
No, they are mentally fragile with or without him15720.2 %
Even with Matthews, they'll still lose16821.6 %
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