Matthews says return from wrist injury could be next game for Maple Leafs - NHL.com
|NHL.com 03 Mar 2021 at 00:55|
Auston Matthews said his wrist injury has improved and the Toronto Maple Leafs center hopes to be back in the lineup as soon as Wednesday against the Edmonton Oilers (8 p.m. ET; SN, TVAS, NHL.TV).
"It s feeling a lot better," Matthews said after participating in a full practice Tuesday. "Day by day I think it s progressed and has been going in the right direction.
"I think the plan is to see how it feels tomorrow and go from there."
Matthews has been playing with the injury for much of the season and said he aggravated it in a 2-1 overtime win against the Calgary Flames on Feb. 24. He has missed the past two games, each against the Oilers, a 4-0 win Saturday and a 3-0 win Tuesday, but has skated the past three days.
"I think that s one of the biggest things for me, so if/when, hopefully tomorrow, I get back into the game, I ve just got to make sure that I keep moving my legs out there, keeping my shifts short and just playing smarter."
Matthews entered Tuesday leading the NHL with 18 goals and fifth with 31 points. He s been working on his release daily and said shooting, handling the puck and face-offs have been affected by the injury.
"It s a little bit of everything," he said. "But like I said, it s been progressing each day. The last two, three days it s felt better and better and I ve been able to be more comfortable out there, with the way I want to play and the way I want to handle the puck and stuff like that. So hopefully it just continues to heal, continues to get better.
"We ll see how it is tomorrow but I d love to get back in a game here."
He said the decision to return will be a balance of the short-term desire to play and the long-term goal of being healthy for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"I think that s just a happy medium that we re kind of coming to a point here," he said. "Obviously I want to feel good enough to play and feel like I can contribute and play my game but not hinder my ability long term and throughout the season because, in the end, we re playing for more than just the regular season. So that s a decision that I ll make and the training staff will discuss. But I don t think we re really going to overcomplicate it."
The Maple Leafs play back-to-back games Wednesday at Edmonton and at the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday, then play at Vancouver on Saturday.
Goalie Frederik Andersen, who has missed four games with a lower-body injury sustained during a 5-3 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 20, practiced and will be evaluated Wednesday before a decision on his return is made.
"Frederik Andersen had a positive day and that s a great thing for us," Keefe said.
Goalie Jack Campbell skated but he is out against the Oilers with a lower-body injury. Forward William Nylander was given a maintenance day but is expected to play.