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Auston Matthews ruled out Wednesday vs. Predators

Maple Leafs center is dealing with an undisclosed injury and will sit out against Nashville.

Toronto Maple Leafs C Auston Matthews won’t play on Wednesday night vs. the Nashville Predators due to an undisclosed injury, per head coach Sheldon Keefe. Bobby McMann is expected to make his NHL debut for the Leafs, who are on a two-game winning streak. Matthews scored in a 6-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers in Toronto’s previous game but only played around 17:00 of ice time, which is well below his average. We’ll break down the impact and how to approach things for betting and fantasy hockey.

The Maple Leafs have shuffled their lines slightly. John Tavares will center the top line with Mitch Marner and Calle Jarnkrok. William Nylander has been shifted to center from wing and will be on the second line with Michael Bunting and Pierre Engvall. McMann will skate on the third line in his debut. Bunting has replaced Matthews on the top power-play unit for Wednesday vs. the Preds.

The Leafs had been playing fine over the first stretch of 2023, but defensively things need tightening up. Perhaps the absence of Matthews will spark that in Toronto, which still ranks 3rd in the NHL in goals allowed (2.61 per game). Goaltending has been an issue as well with both Ilya Samsonov and Matt Murray struggling in net. They’ve combined to allow 27 goals over the past nine starts.

Jarnkrok and Bunting should be available in most fantasy hockey leagues for season-long. If you’re playing DFS, it’s a tough sell. The Predators are 5-1-1 over their past seven games and are allowing just 2.43 goals per game over that stretch. Juuse Saros has been fantastic in net. He’s going to be an appealing tournament play with Matthews out. Jarnkrok and that top line stack make the most sense. Engvall isn’t a bad value option skating with Nylander and Bunting.

The Predators are still only -170 at +1.5 on the puck line on DraftKings Sportsbook. The over/under has dropped to 6.0 goals and the under should get action with one of the top goal scorers out. Saros has been great, again, so he could stand on his head. Plus, you’ve got to think the Leafs play tighter and it isn’t like Nashville is an offensive juggernaut. Under would be the lean. Nashville is also still +155 on the moneyline which feels insane.