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Sheldon Keefe provides update - Should Leafs fans be concerned about Matthews' injury?

Published April 21, 2022 at 4:02 PM

At practice this morning, Maple Leafs Coach Sheldon Keefe announced that Auston Matthews will miss his third straight game due to an undisclosed injury.

Not much needs to be said as to why an injury to Auston Matthews is greatly concerning for the Leafs. Being the Leafs first line center and carrying them to their best season in franchise history has landed him as the Hart trophy favourite this year. His goal scoring and defensive play is integral to the Leafs if they expect any playoff success. So, is Matthews playoff impact in jeopardy due to this new injury?

Over the last three seasons, Matthews has dealt with shoulder injuries and a previously described «lingering» wrist injury, and each of these has affected his play. When Matthews began his season late after healing his wrist from off-season surgery, he had a noticeably slow start. To use a cynically selected 7 game sample to begin the year, Matthews only 3 goals. That's a significant drop in production for Matthews, who's scored at a 0.82 goal per game pace the rest of the year.

Sheldon Keefe currently insists the injury is not related to any previous injury, including his wrist surgery. Personally, I'm not so sure.

In his last three games before missing time with injury, Matthews took only 3 shots each game. In the five games prior to that, he averaged 8.6 shots per game. With only 4 games remaining where he will be eligible to play and sitting at 58 goals, he may not reach the 60-goal benchmark either.

The injury may be unrelated, but the drop in shots is slightly concerning going into the playoffs. Sheldon Keefe, like any other NHL coach at this time of year, is likely downplaying the extent of injury, or not telling the full truth of the matter.

For now, we can only speculate. It's a guarantee Matthews will play in the playoffs, but ideally, he's fully healthy and able to dominate games to finally carry the Leafs past the first round. Given his dominant regular season, I wouldn't bet against it.
April 21   |   237 answers
Sheldon Keefe provides update - Should Leafs fans be concerned about Matthews' injury?

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