It was a popular topic of conversation as the Toronto Maple Leafs stumbled their way through the past two-plus weeks: Where would this team be without Auston Matthews?

Unfortunately, they may soon find out.

Matthews missed Tuesday’s practice with an undisclosed injury, the first time he’s sat out a full-team skate since entering the NHL. Even though he managed to play in Monday’s 4-3 shootout win over the Vegas Golden Knights after being listed as a "game-time decision," head coach Mike Babcock acknowledged that his star centre was limited.

"He wasn’t as dominant as he normally is," said Babcock. "He just didn’t have the same kind of – I don’t know – power, or whatever you want to call it. We’ll see. I think more of it’s when you first have something wrong with you, you want to know what it is first.

"The big part of that is the mental side and worry and then once you know what it is then you can get either playing through it because it’s no big deal or you can get it fixed and then get feeling better."

The Leafs aren’t offering much in the way of tangible information about his condition, but there are logical conclusions to be drawn here.

They employ an 11-person medical team and lean heavily on the advice of sports science director Jeremy Bettle. Just 10 days ago, they sat forwards James van Riemsdyk and Matt Martin against Philadelphia with minor maintenance-type injuries.