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Maple Leafs Rule Out Forward Auston Matthews For Game 6 Against Bruins

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Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews will not be participating in Game 6 of the first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Bruins on Thursday. The Leafs currently trail the Bruins 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, facing the threat of elimination with another loss. Matthews has been sidelined due to what the Leafs have described as a “lingering” illness, causing him to miss the third period of Game 4 and the entirety of Game 5.

Despite his absence, Matthews has been skating on his own for the past three days, including a 30-minute session prior to the Leafs’ morning skate on Thursday.

However, Coach Sheldon Keefe stated that the decision regarding Matthews’ inclusion in the lineup would ultimately be made by the team’s medical staff. Toronto managed to extend the series in Game 5 without Matthews, employing a similar strategy to grind down the Bruins and level the series.

In Matthews’ absence, Max Domi assumed the top-line center role in Game 5 and delivered a strong performance, particularly excelling in faceoffs with an 85.7% success rate. Additionally, he took over Matthews’ position on Toronto’s top power play unit, which has struggled, converting only once in 17 opportunities during the postseason. The Leafs also adjusted their lineup, moving William Nylander to the second line as he continues to acclimate to postseason play after recovering from injury.

Despite Matthews’ significant contributions earlier in the series, including a standout performance in Game 2, where he tallied three points, the Leafs have adopted a “next-man-up” mentality to compensate for his absence. This approach will be crucial as they aim to secure their first playoff victory on home ice in this series and end a streak of six consecutive postseason losses at home dating back to last year.

As they prepare for Game 6, the Leafs face the challenge of potentially playing without Matthews once again, with their hopes resting on forcing a Game 7 in Boston, where his return remains uncertain.

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