The Maple Leafs open their season Wednesday night and will be without the services of star forward Auston Matthews.
“Personally, I don’t feel like I’m at the point where I feel 100% comfortable playing,” he told reporters on Monday. “That’s really all it is. I feel good physically and everything, I just think I need a little more time.”
Toronto begins its season Wednesday night against the Canadiens at Scotiabank Arena.
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What is Auston Matthews’ injury?
On August 13, the Maple Leafs announced that Matthews had undergone wrist surgery after experiencing discomfort when he stepped up his ice training earlier in the week. He was expected to miss at least six weeks at the time, which would have put him ready to go around the start of training camp. It will take a little longer before launching into a match.
Matthews suffered from a sore wrist throughout the 2021 NHL season, missing four games.
“I think it’s something that can be treated. He’s been dealing with it for a long time now throughout this season, ”said Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe in late February after the team’s 2-1 overtime win over the Flames (in which Matthews did not win. don’t feel comfortable taking a face-off in the extra session).
The first sign of a problem came on Jan.22, when the American – who has already been named to the 2022 Olympic squad – left in a win over the Oilers. He did not practice the next day and said after playing two nights later that he had “some trouble with my hand that I was crossing”.
During Amazon Docuseries Episode 2, “All or Nothing,” Matthews tells a teammate that he got his wrist caught.
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When is Auston Matthews expected to return?
Matthews has already been determined to miss the first three games of the 2021-22 regular season. The Maple Leafs face the Canadiens on Wednesday before a home and away game with the Senators Thursday (in Ottawa) and Saturday (in Toronto).
“He went through last season where he wasn’t playing 100 percent and he went through that process to be in that position (to play 100 percent),” Keefe said (via David Alter of The Hockey News). “We will make sure we are patient enough to allow this to happen.”
For the first time in nearly two years, Toronto is expected to play a full 82-game roster, so there’s plenty of time to facilitate Matthews’ return to the roster. Last season, despite the wobbly wrist, he scored 41 goals, the best in the NHL, to win the Rocket Richard Trophy. It is still believed among pundits that he will be back in the conversation as the league’s top scorer this season, despite missing the start of the season.
Although the season is long, the Leafs are hoping to get off to a good start soon after having had another disappointing season. The team were ousted in the first round of the playoffs – again – in 2021, this time by their opening night opponent, the Canadiens. Matthews’ loss leaves a hole in the lineup as he crosses the front row. Captain John Tavares took his place between Mitchell Marner and Nick Ritchie, and the right circle on the power play. Marner, by the way, is a game time decision for Game 1.
Forward Ilya Mikheyev, who has successfully undergone surgery to fix a broken thumb, is also on the shelf. He was absent for eight weeks and in the long-term injured reserve.