The post Is Half an Auston Matthews Better than None at All? appeared first on NHL Trade Talk.

The Toronto Maple Leafs Auston Matthews’ is unavailable for Game 6, making it now two elimination games the team’s best player will have missed. According to reports, Matthews is not expected to play again due to illness (some believe it’s more than that). Although his time on the ice increased over the past few days, his limited participation in the team’s practices and continued games missed is troubling.

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The Maple Leafs will confront elimination again without their leading goal scorer. With Matthews sidelined, the team will likely rely on Max Domi, John Tavares, and a host of youngsters to step into larger roles. However, assuming this isn’t something drastic, what if Matthews could play at half-speed? What if he is only half as effective as he could be? Should he still play?

Related: Matthews-Less Maple Leafs Win Game 5: Knies and Woll the Heroes

Is Half of Auston Matthews Better than No Auston Matthews?

The question of whether Matthews should play, even at half speed, looms as Game 6 approaches. Despite uncertainties surrounding his status, Matthews’ increasing involvement in practice activities offers a glimmer of hope that whatever his issue is, it’s not so serious that these absences aren’t game-time decisions. As he transitions from basic stick handling to more intense drills, speculation mounts that he could eventually play. Yet, what would be his potential role if the Leafs can stretch the series with Boston to a Game 7?

Auston Matthews upset loss to Bruins Game 1

While the Maple Leafs maintain a cover of secrecy surrounding Matthews’ status, his mere presence on the ice could significantly impact the team’s morale. But would it provide a tactical advantage? Even in a limited capacity, could Matthews’ skill and leadership qualities potentially sway the momentum in Toronto’s favor and bolster their chances of securing a crucial victory in Game 6?

That’s Where the Maple Leafs Are Today – Pondering Whether Matthews Can Play at All

As the anticipation of another potential elimination game builds, the decision to sit Matthews in Game 6 underscores the balance between risk and reward. While his presence might elevate the Maple Leafs’ offense, the team must weigh that against his effectiveness and the risk of doing further damage.

The question is more than a whole Matthews vs. a half of a Matthews. It’s whether another player – perhaps one of the organization’s Black Aces (like Alex Steeves) could offer more on the ice than half of their 69-goal scorer. Could another youngster similar to Matthew Knies, with so much to prove and so many reasons to go completely all out offer more?

Perhaps the team could use more determination than elite skill right now. We’ll soon see what the choice will be.

Related: Why Matthew Knies is the Maple Leafs’ Postseason Powerhouse

The post Is Half an Auston Matthews Better than None at All? appeared first on NHL Trade Talk.

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