Auston Matthews practices, might return against Devils
TORONTO (AP) — Toronto forward Auston Matthews practiced Wednesday for the first time since sustaining an upper-body injury eight days ago, and could be back in the lineup when the Maple Leafs host the New Jersey Devils.
Coach Mike Babcock said it would be a game-day decision Thursday night.
“Good to have him back on the ice today,” Babcock said. “I don’t know if he’s playing tomorrow to be honest, we’ll see tomorrow morning at the skate. Medical guys will tell me what’s going on and we’ll make our lines accordingly.
“Ideally we get all hands on deck and get playing.”
Matthews said he’s not quite 100 percent.
“It’s always frustrating to miss games, it sucks watching,” Matthews said. “It feels boring when you can’t skate.”
Babcock saw some rust on the 20-year-old center at Mastercard Centre at the Leafs’ practice facility, but doesn’t have any reservations about putting Matthews in if he’s cleared to go.
“I saw today he was fine, but wasn’t like he normally is,” Babcock said. “Power, explosiveness, fitness. ... Anyone knows you take too many days off in hockey and takes you a while to get it back. (But) he’s a good player and determined and I don’t think there’ll be any issues.”
Matthews has missed three games. He has 10 goals and nine assists in 16 games.