Matthews back on the ice
Auston Matthews is back on his skates.
When the Maple Leafs’ 20-yearold star is back in the lineup is yet to be determined.
“He has to practise with the team to know that,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said after Matthews was absent from practice on Monday at the MasterCard Centre.
“But he skated today, will skate tomorrow and practise with the team (on) Wednesday. And we will see if he is ready to go or not.” The Leafs, winners of four in a row, are enjoying a span of four days without a game. As Babcock indicated, we won’t know for another 48 hours at least whether Matthews, suffering from an upperbody injury that is believed to be a back issue, will play against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday at the Air Canada Centre. The Leafs, who were off on Sunday, will have another day off on Tuesday before returning to the ice on Wednesday. Also on Monday, forwards Tyler Bozak (maintenance day) and William Nylander (illness) did not practise. Matthews, who leads the Leafs in scoring with 19 points in 16 games, has not skated with the team since playing in the Leafs’ 4-3 shootout win against the Vegas Golden Knights last Monday.
Without Matthews, the Leafs have managed to get by quite nicely, thanks, beating Minnesota at home prior to sweeping a home-andhome set with the Boston Bruins to push their record to 12-7-0.
“We’re all pros and certainly the coaching staff hasn’t come in and said, ‘Hey, our player is out, just go do your best,’ ” defenceman Connor Carrick said. “(With a player of Matthews’ stature out), sometimes you can get better honesty within your game in terms having to really do it right, shift in and shift out and wear (the opposition) out because the player who is most dynamic in your lineup is not playing.”
Babcock, meanwhile, said he had no update on the status of winger Nikita Soshnikov. If Soshnikov is not part of the Leafs’ roster by Tuesday, because of a clause in his contract, he can leave and play in Europe. Soshnikov spent the 201314 and 2014-15 seasons with Atlant of the KHL.
Soshnikov has 12 points in 14 games with the Toronto Marlies. In 67 career games in the National Hockey League, including 56 last season, Soshnikov has seven goals and seven assists.
Toronto centre Auston Matthews skated Monday, but he’ll have to practise with his teammates before determining when he can play again.