The Saturday Slate is a weekly discussion or platform where members of Win Column Sports provide their respective opinions and thoughts on an event that took place in the prior week. Additionally, there is also a running pool amongst the contributors based on our picks for Saturday’s match-ups. This week, the Win Column panel discusses the NHL action on November 3rd.
On Monday, October 29th, the Toronto Maple Leafs placed Auston Matthews on injured reserve with what was deemed a “sore shoulder.” Matthew’s injury occurred early in the second period during a game against the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday, October 27th when Jets defenceman Jacob Trouba delivered a shoulder-to-shoulder check to the Leaf’s star forward. Following the check, Matthews left the ice immediately and never returned. Prior to the injury Matthew’s posts 16 points (10 G, 6 A) in 11 games. Matthew’s is expected to miss up to 4 weeks of hockey which equates to approximately 13-games barring any setbacks. Fortunately, the injury won’t require surgery. Now, the question asked of the Win Column Sports panel – how will the Maple Leafs fare without their stud centreman?
A special welcome to the 4th Line Podcast – and for this week’s edition, Carl in particular – our newest contributors to the Saturday Slate!
Get ready, NHL fans – if you thought that the media’s coverage of the Toronto Maple Leafs was bad before, just imagine how bad it will be with INJURY WATCH – THE AUSTON MATTHEWS STORY. Frankly, I’m astounded that we haven’t already gotten a 30-for-30 on the injury, but I digress. Matthews is a special player, and regardless of the Leafs’ current position in the standings losing your most talented player will hurt any roster. Despite the fact that Toronto features names like John Tavares, Mitch Marner and Morgan Reilly who are more than capable of lessening the blow of losing Matthews, I still see a slide down the standings impending. It’s simply harder to win without your best player, and despite the star-studded Leafs roster, Matthews is clearly their top guy.
The Leafs, in my opinion, was never going to win the President’s Trophy this year anyway, so the Auston Matthews injury shouldn’t affect the outcome of the season. Yes, maybe they take a hit in the standings and get a worse seed in the playoffs, but they’re going to make it regardless. They would be smart to let Matthews sit as long as he needs to get healthy; frankly, they have the horses to carry them to the playoffs without Matthews in the lineup.
Auston Matthew’s missing time isn’t anything new to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Matthews missed 20 games last season, and during those 20 games, the Leafs posted an 11-7-2 record. Even with Matthews missing just under a quarter of the 2017-2018 season, the Leafs still made the playoffs with plenty of room to breathe. I believe the outcome will be the exact same at the end of the 2018-2019 regular season as the Leafs play in arguably the worst division in the NHL. It won’t be a surprise to see the Leafs struggle over the first couple games of Matthew’s absence, however, the Leafs will adapt, just like any good team does.
With Auston Matthews on the sideline, the Toronto Maple Leafs are destined to end up exactly where they would have been had he stayed healthy. This team has proven that they are essentially a lock for the playoffs, especially in a division featuring the Senators, Red Wings and Panthers. The question is simply, how will they prepare themselves for the playoffs? At this point, that means giving Matthews as much time as needed to rehab his injury and prepare for what they hope is a long playoff run.
WinColumnSport’s Saturday Picks
|Senators @ Sabres||Senators||Sabres||Sabres||Sabres|
|Stars @ Capitals||Capitals||Capitals||Capitals||Capitals|
|Oilers @ Red Wings||Oilers||Oilers||Oilers||Oilers|
|Devils @ Islanders||Islanders||Devils||Islanders||Devils|
|Maple Leafs @ Penguins||Penguins||Penguins||Penguins||Maple Leafs|
|Lightning @ Canadiens||Lightning||Lightning||Canadiens||Lightning|
|Bruins @ Predators||Predators||Predators||Bruins||Predators|
|Blackhawks @ Flames||Blackhawks||Flames||Flames||Flames|
|Hurricanes @ Golden Knights||Golden Knights||Golden Knights||Hurricanes||Hurricanes|
|Blue Jackets @ Kings||Kings||Blue Jackets||Blue Jackets||Blue Jackets|
|Flyers @ Sharks||Sharks||Sharks||Sharks||Sharks|
Records Thus Far:
- Spencer: (14-25), Last Week: (7-6), Winning Percentage: (36%)
- Ben: (20-19), Last Week: (5-8), Winning Percentage: (51%)
- Arik: (16-23), Last Week: (4-9), Winning Percentage: (41%)
- 4th Line Podcast: (0-0), Last Week: (0-0), Winning Percentage (0%)