Toronto Maple Leafs being patient with Auston Matthews' injury

By James Reeve
Mar. 08, 2018

The Toronto Maple Leafs have sorely missed star centre Auston Matthews, going 1-2-2 in his absence, but the club are waiting patiently before bringing him back into the line-up.

According to Sportsnet, Matthews skated with the team at Wednesday’s practice session – the first time he has been able to in over two weeks.

The Leafs’ star suffered a shoulder injury in a 4-3 shootout victory over the New York Islanders and hasn’t been able to practice with the team since.

After a 4-3 home victory over the Boston Bruins the team went on a 10-day road trip, with Matthews remaining in Toronto.

But Matthews has now returned the ice with his teammates, albeit for a 20 minute spell wearing a red non-contact jersey.

The Maple Leafs are playing the long game where it comes to Matthews’ recovery, with team management cautiously aware of his importance in the playoffs.

The Leafs are 14 points clear of the Florida Panthers, sitting third place in the Atlantic Division and firmly in line for a place in the playoffs.

While their place in the playoffs is not 100% confirmed yet, the team will bring him back into the line-up slowly in order to shelter him from another injury.

The Leafs have a few days off before playing the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday, but it is unlikely that Matthews will be rushed into that game.

Fans of the team will no doubt wish to see their star player return to the line-up sooner rather than later, but a cautious approach is a smart approach.

If the Leafs rushed the former first-overall pick back into the team and his injury is aggravated, potentially leading him to miss significant time in the playoffs, that would be far worse than letting him recover slowly and see him play a few games heading into the playoffs fully healthy.

When healthy, Matthews has had a stellar season with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

He leads the team with 28 goals this season and is joint-second, with William Nylander, on the team in total points with 50, though he has played 15 games less than his line-mate.

Mitch Marner has overtaken Matthews in total points with 54 and his hot streak will be much needed until the American centre returns.

Having a healthy Matthews and a hot Marner heading into the playoffs will be a big boost for the team and the slow, patient approach to Matthews’ injury is the right way to go.