Auston Matthews’ excellent game on Monday night for the Toronto Maple Leafs ended with reason for concern, as he suffered a potential concussion late in the third period.
Monday’s game was going extremely well for Auston Matthews, scoring twice on a game-high seven shots and making it six straight 30-goal seasons to start his NHL career. Then, disaster struck for him and the Toronto Maple Leafs late on in the third period.
During a battle with Nino Niederreiter of the Carolina Hurricanes, Matthews fell down and inadvertently got kneed in the back of the head by Brett Pesce. The Leafs’ centre stayed down for what seemed like an eternity, before leaving the ice and being taken to concussion protocol.
Toronto would go on to claim a comeback 4-3 win in the extra period thanks to a red hot Mitch Marner, who has now scored a goal in eight consecutive games. However, thoughts then almost immediately turned to Matthews and the severity of his injury.
Unsurprisingly, the Leafs were not in a position to provide much of an update during post game interviews. As per the Toronto Sun‘s Lance Hornby, head coach Sheldon Keefe said:
"“We’ll take some time for it to settle down and assess him properly. I actually had him taking a scheduled day off (Tuesday) coming back from the All-Star game.”"
The Leafs do not play again till Thursday night, when they face the Flames. Pending an update on Matthews, the likelihood is he will not take to the ice in Calgary.
In one respect, the timing of the 24-year-old’s injury is frustrating as he has been on a roll of late, with seven goals and 10 overall points in his past four games. There is an excellent chance he will finally hit the 50-goal mark, while also setting a new personal high for points in a season.
On the flip side however, it is better for Matthews to deal with a potential absence in February, as opposed to during the playoffs. The Leafs will have a tough enough time as it is trying to break their first round jinx, never mind without the young superstar.
Following Monday night’s game, the 2016 first overall draft pick is third in the NHL with 31 goals, just two behind Chris Kreider for the league lead. However, it should be noted Kredier has played seven more games than Matthews.
Pending if and how long Matthews has to sit out, how confident are you in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ ability to keep winning without their superstar centre? Let us know in the comments section below.