Auston Matthews Injures Shoulder
Auston Matthews injury could be a major blow to the Toronto Maple Leafs playoff push. With three and a half minutes left in the game against the New York Islanders last night, he scored the game-tying goal. Merely two minutes later, the team’s star forward tried finessing his way to the net. He ended up being sandwiched between New York defenseman, Adam Pelech, and winger, Cal Clutterbuck. After the awkward hit, he slowly skated back to the bench showing obvious signs of discomfort. Following some consultation with team trainers, he left the bench and did not come back for overtime or the shootout. The Leafs would go on to win the game 4-3.
Auston Matthews heads to the room after this double hit from Adam Pelech and Cal Clutterbuck. Suspicion is that it's a shoulder ailment. pic.twitter.com/VWtIlQUUhj
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) February 23, 2018
Matthews Injury Could Prove Costly At A Crucial Time
With 19 games remaining in Toronto’s regular season, this injury has coaches, teammates, and fans on the edge of their seat. Confirmed by the head coach, Mike Babcock, and an MRI, it is, in fact, a shoulder injury. Babcock said he’ll be out for “a bit”. No one really knows how long a bit is or to what extent the injury is.
The Leafs are four points out of first place in the Atlantic Division. However, they have five games over the second place Bruins and two games over the division-leading Lightning. This means that if they are to remain in contention for first place, Toronto needs to stay on top of their game. They currently hold a three-game win streak and are 13-3-0 in their last 16 games. It’s well within the realm of possibility for the Leafs to wind up winning the Atlantic division but it’d surely help to have their leading point-getter healthy.
Don’t Panic Yet
The good thing is that though there are only 19 games left, it leaves plenty of time to get healthy before a run at the Stanley Cup. Babcock had some consoling words about Matthews: “Put a smile on your face. You get healthier quicker when you’re smiling. He’s a passionate guy, he wants to play. I’m not very concerned about him, he’s fine. We were joking around in there a minute ago. He’ll be ready to go.” Though he predictably did not practice today, Nick Kypreos shed some good news for the Toronto faithful.
Indications last night were Auston Matthews shoulder injury wasn’t serious pending the MRI to confirm. Some talk compared his injury to the one Mitch Marner suffered last season vs CBJ that cost him 5 games. @nhl @MapleLeafs
— Nick Kypreos (@RealKyper) February 23, 2018
Officially, Matthews is listed as day-to-day and is speculated to miss only ten days. Babcock sees this as a positive opportunity as Matthews “was going to be out for a bit anyway.” Don’t expect this setback to alter the Leafs approach to the February 26th trade deadline, either.
All in all, the Leafs need to find a way to stay hot while their best player sits out. He’ll likely be back in early to mid-March well before the season is over. When Matthews returns to the lineup, it is only a matter of time before the Maple Leafs gear up for a spirited run at the Stanley Cup.
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