Maple Leafs confirm status of Auston Matthews for Game 82

The Leafs superstar forward is sitting at 69 goals.



The Toronto Maple Leafs have a full slate of rivals on hand, as they close out the regular season this evening with a matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning before turning their attention to their historic Original 6 and divisional foe Boston Bruins, whom they are confirmed to be facing in Round 1 of the upcoming 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

And for superstar forward Auston Matthews, who is currently sitting at 69 goals on the season (the most in a regular season since Alex Ovechkin's output of 65 in 2007-08), there was speculation that the Leafs could consider sitting him tonight against the Bolts in order to avoid any potential injury. Of course, that would also mean that he would have no shot at reaching the 70 goal plateau. 

However, those fears have been alleviated. Head coach Sheldon Keefe has confirmed that Matthews will in fact be in the lineup tonight at Amalie Arena as the Leafs close out the regular season. 

"The 70-goal thing aside, Auston's playing good and feeling good. If I had more guys to sit or rest, he wouldn't be at the top of the list for me, quite honestly," Keefe said. "In terms of Auston, there wasn't much a discussion there."

If Matthews does indeed hit 70, he would be the first player since Teemu Selanne since 1993 to reach the mark. And Lighting head coach Jon Cooper sees it both ways. 

"For 34 to be able to get 70 and to be able to say you were in the building, as a fan, would be super cool to see," Cooper said.

"Problem is, I'm the coach of the other team. So, we have to find a way to prevent that. But he's done it 69 times against a whole bunch of other teams trying to prevent it, so it's hard to do. We'll see what happens."

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Source: Sportsnet