NHL should sit its stars every once in a while
In hockey, the term used is “maintenance day.”
It sounds a lot like someone is taking his body to the auto shop for a tune-up, but it mostly means a player was too sore to practise. By now, no one questions it. Hockey is a physical sport. If you need to skip work to soak in an ice bath or get a massage, go do it.
The question is why doesn’t it happen on game days? Maybe it should. Maybe it is and we just don’t know.
Two days after Auston Matthews was a game-time decision in a 4-3 shootout win against the Vegas Golden Knights, and one day after he missed practice with “soreness,” the best player on the Toronto Maple Leafs sat out Wednesday night’s game against the Minnesota Wild. The official word from head coach Mike Babcock is that Matthews is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. The unofficial word was that he needed a break. And few could blame him.
This is a brutal part of the schedule for the Leafs. After playing four games in six nights on the road last week — three in California and one in St. Louis — they returned home for another four tilts in six nights this week. In total, they play eight games in 13 days, two of which are on back-to-back nights.
If this was the middle of March, perhaps whatever is ailing Matthews wouldn’t have kept him out of the lineup. But if you are going to miss a game to rest a bump or a bruise, better to do it in the second week of November when the points in the standings don’t seem as dire.
“I think you’re never going to feel 100%,” Matthews said after Monday’s win against Vegas, in which he had an assist and logged a gamehigh 21 minutes and 11 seconds among forwards. firstname.lastname@example.org