Toronto Maple Leafs star center Auston Matthews has been out for his team's four last games. The team has only scored four goals in his absence, losing 3 straight - including their first shutout loss of the season to the Minnesota Wild.
Matthews is suspected to be dealing with a concussion, although we'll never know because Mike Babcock refuses to disclose the exact nature of a player's injury. Rather, he will designate the injury as lower- or upper-body.
Matthews returned to the ice this morning, skating on his own prior to the full team practice. The hope was that he would join his teammates, but the medical team decided against it.
Babcock, while pleased with his player's progress, was rather surprised that the doctors forbade Matthews from practicing.
"When he plays, I don't know 100% yet. I thought he should be in practice today, but that's why they don't let me make decisions around here in the medical department," Babcock told TSN.
It sure sounds like if it were up to him, he'd have Matthews in practice now. There are reports circulating that Matthews may indeed be shut down for the holidays, not returning until earliest after Christmas. The Leafs hold a relatively decent cushion in the standings, with 6 points on the Bruins and a couple points on both New York-based teams, which currently hold the two wild card spots.
That being said, the Leafs are on a bit of a slide right now and can't seem to score. Matthews is their best goals-per-game player, and their best player overall. The future captain of the team is sorely missed, and Babcock appears to be feeling it right now.