The Toronto Maple Leafs need to adapt during the four-week period without the services of star forward Auston Matthews, who is sidelined with a shoulder injury. On Saturday night, the star forward drove towards the Winnipeg Jets net and took a jarring bodycheck from defenseman Jacob Trouba, as you can see in the video here above.
Matthews missed 10 games last year with a second-degree shoulder separation on the right side and this time, it was a familiar pain that shot through his left. The good news that the 21-year-old will not require surgery, which would have sidelined him for multiple months.
“I knew the guy was coming,” Matthews told reporters once the Leafs announced his injury. “[I was] trying to get a shot off, but you don’t really know what to expect because you’re so close to the goalie.
“He took body, which is what you’re supposed to do, and just caught me on a weird angle.”
While fans can appreciate the upside of the news, there remains tons of concern when it comes to what Matthews needs to do once he gets back to action. On Tuesday, TSN's OverDrive hosts Bryan Hayes, Jeff O’Neill and Jamie McLennan asked TSN Hockey analyst Ray Ferraro if he believes Matthews will have to adjust or even change his style of play to help prevent further injury.
“It’s crappy luck for sure, and I don’t think he changes anything, but, it’s gotta to be concerning. Say yes it’s bad luck and it sucks like he did, but he’s gotta be a little concerned because man, both shoulders popped. You’re young… but do you have to strengthen them a little bit? I mean, I don’t know. It is a lot for sure, that it’s not the same shoulder, that it’s one each, you at least have to ask the question if you’re Matthews: am I doing the right stuff training wise?”
Matthews has dealt with more than his share of injuries in the past year. In addition to the two shoulder problems, he ended up missing time with a concussion and back problems. Fans are getting worried about the guy who has been the best player on the roster so far this season - a guy who has missed quite a bit of action due to injuries…
While Ferraro has no clue what Matthews could have done differently on the sequence as he was simply heading to the net to score, he keeps wondering what the young player needs to do to get stronger and prevent this type of injury in the future.
Matthews has often mentioned that the mental grind was the most difficult aspect of the rehab process, however, clearly he will need to be patient and make sure he is strong enough to return to prevent another injury.
Based on a minimum four-week timeline that was given, Matthews will miss at least 13 games, and his earliest possible return date lands on the Boston Bruins’ visit in Toronto on Nov. 26.