Matthews back on the ice

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - SPORTS - TERRY KOSHAN tkoshan@post­media.com twit­ter.com/ koshtoron­to­sun

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 re­tir­ing 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 SUN FILES

Toronto cen­tre Aus­ton Matthews skated Mon­day, but he’ll have to prac­tise with his team­mates be­fore de­ter­min­ing when he can play again.

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