Toronto Maple Leafs young star Auston Matthews is back on the same mission. His team might be playoff-bound already, but it does not matter to the 20-year-old. He wants to win and get in a winning mode with the postseason just around the corner.
However, Matthews is now overly excited on how his team has managed to win recently. Late in the third period, Matthews decided to be the difference maker and deflected William Nylander's pass in front with just under four minutes remaining to lift the Leafs to a 5-4 victory over the New York Islanders on Friday night.
His comments after the game though looked more like criticism then satisfaction.
“Another kinda ugly win.” That's how Matthews described the victory, adding that head coach Mike Babcock and staff were probably not pleased either with the team's performance.
"A good two points for us," he said. "Probably not a fun game for coaches, but more a fun game for the players."
Matthews returned to action on March 22nd since injuring his right shoulder Feb. 22, and has tried to pick up where he left off since. The shoulder injury was the third major ailment the top-line centre has dealt with this season. He missed four games with an upper-body injury back in November and six with a concussion in December. However, his competitive side has not been affected while he was on the sideline...
“He’s been going at 100 per cent, so it’s nice to see him come out and dominate every game,” Nylander told reporters, as reported by Sportsnet.
However, Babcock believes that Matthews can keep going and get back to where he was before all of the injuries. It has been a strong year for the young star, but the coach hopes his young star player will get back on track for the playoffs.
“He’s not as good as he’s been, and he’s going to be better. I thought tonight was another step,” Babcock said. “It takes you a while to get your game back. He’s going to get a real test tomorrow, which is real positive for him. Back-to-back games, a good grind, good for his conditioning. He’ll just keep getting better.”
We guess Matthews is expecting the same from his team, hoping that they will manage to win a game cleanly and clearly. The Leafs will get a good challenge tonight, and Matthews will be able to prove to his coach he has gotten his game back as Toronto faces the Winnipeg Jets.