The Toronto Maple Leafs have started to put things together as of late, after a long stretch of mediocrity stemming from December. The difficult stretch started around the time Nikita Zaitsev succumbed to injury.
That's not to say that the faults of the team are directly related to his absence, but he has certainly been missed in the team's top four, and he'll be welcomed back with wide open arms.
His absence has been prolonged; he's been out for several weeks - but he will finally make his return to the ice on Monday for the Leafs' afternoon practice.
He had resumed skating on his own before the All-Star break, but this will be his first time on the ice with his teammates since December 15th, when he sustained the injury.
James Mirtle of The Athletic forecasts that he could be back by Saturday when the Leafs take on the Boston Bruins.
Recently signed to a seven year pact, Zaitsev has 10 points in 34 games played this season.
MATTHEWS AT THE ALL-STAR GAME
By FAR the best moment of the All-Star game:
It turns out Jack Eichel and Auston Matthews planned to do this should either of them score, but it was still absolutely priceless. We all know what they're imitating here.
Matthews tried to recruit Drew Doughty to the Leafs.