Toronto Maple Leafs: Auston Matthews suspension not surprising

Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs cross checks Rasmus Dahlin #26 of the Buffalo Sabres. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs cross checks Rasmus Dahlin #26 of the Buffalo Sabres. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs will be without Auston Matthews as he was handed a two-game suspension from the NHL’s department of player safety.

There should be no surprise that Auston Matthews was suspended for two games but that doesn’t mean Toronto Maple Leafs fans should be ok with the decision either.

To make one thing clear, it was not a smart play by Matthews as he retaliated with a vicious cross-check up high on Rasmus Dahlin. Given his status as a superstar player, this isn’t a play that will get ignored either given the attention Matthews draws playing in Toronto.

The disappointing part about all of this is that in the eyes of many, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety has lost credibility over the lack of consistency in how they hand out suspensions, fines and at times no discipline at all. Given that Matthews had no prior history and there was no injury on the play, there is a case to be made in his defence.

Look no further then the messages on Twitter showing examples of plays that did not result in discipline, including Jonathan Huberdeau who caught a vulnerable player with a hit to the head. Leafs fans have also been resharing a hit on Wayne Simmonds from last year’s playoffs where he took a vicious cross-check to the head that did not get called for a penalty or suspension.

Unless Matthews decides to appeal the suspension which hasn’t happened and might not be worth it if the timing doesn’t work out, the Leafs are just going to have to move forward.

How Auston Matthews’ suspension impacts the Toronto Maple Leafs

With Matthews out of the lineup, they likely move John Tavares to play with Mitch Marner and Michael Bunting. This would then lead to Alexander Kerfoot pairing up with William Nylander and Ondrej Kase.

The Leafs have been able to keep themselves afloat with Matthews out of the lineup going 24-15-2. The last time they didn’t have him was back at the start of the season on Oct. 16 when they beat the Ottawa Senators.

There’s no doubting the impact Matthes has had this season as one of the favourites to win the Hart Trophy. Would his candidacy get hurt a bit if the Leafs are able to win without him playing or does Matthews’ absence solidify his case if the Leafs struggle?

After their loss to the Buffalo Sabres, the Leafs don’t have much of a margin for error as the Boston Bruins are two points behind them for third place in the Atlantic Division. They also missed out on gaining ground on the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Safe to say the task doesn’t get any easier with Matthews unable to play against the Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes but hopefully, this team starts to play up to their opponent after a poor showing against non-playoff teams.

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What are your thoughts on Matthews’ suspension? What should they do without him in the lineup? Let us know in the comments below.