“It’s Weird”: Insider Talks Auston Matthews Status for Maple Leafs-Bruins Game 5

From all accounts, it appears that we're just about at the end of an era for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Unless they can make a miraculous comeback from down 3-1 to the Boston Bruins, this team will look drastically different next season. And it sounds like—maybe—they could be forced to play Game 5 Tuesday night in Boston without 69-goal man Auston Matthews.

NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman opined on that possibility Monday afternoon on Sportsnet 590 in updating just what is (and isn't) known about Matthews' condition, and his status. Does he think, after the superstar was pulled for the third period in Game 4 because of an ongoing mystery illness, that Matthews might not play Game 5?

Yes, I do. He didn't skate this morning at practice (which he hasn't for the last few morning skates)... Everybody here has to be prepared for a scenario where Auston Matthews isn't going to play.

To be clear, head coach Sheldon Keefe still said today that he might "hopefully" be able to go, but really couldn't say one way or the other whether his MVP will be able to suit up. Matthews has been suffering from either some kind of food poisoning or viral infection of some kind, one that seems to be exacerbated when he ramps up activity — such as playing in a Stanley Cup playoff game. 

“For whatever reason, it’s not one of those everyday types of illnesses that sort of come and go,” Keefe said. “This one has lingered, and the effects have lingered and gotten worse when he’s on the ice asserting himself.”

Friedman remains puzzled as well, and hasn't been able to identify just what's going on here.

It's weird. You can't help but look at this and say, 'what's the full explanation?'... There was an illness, and now it's a week later, and he might not play tomorrow (Tuesday)... What exactly is this, is there something we're missing?

Friedman does realize that we might not really find out what's been going on with Matthews until the Leafs' season is done (one more day?). "I understand that at this time of year, truth is the first casualty of the playoffs.

"We will see what tomorrow brings."

Photo: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports