Auston Matthews reveals he played because of a hand injury

In an interview with Jonas Siegel of The Athletic, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews revealed he’s been playing with a hand injury this season.

Earlier this month, Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said Matthews played « through some injuries and things that got in his way » but didn’t go into specifics. The revelations come in a season that has seen Matthews miss seven games while playing at the rate of just under 40 goals, a big drop from his league-leading 60-goal season a year ago. year. The 25-year-old forward edged out Connor McDavid for the Hart Trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award as the league’s most valuable player by breaking the 60-goal threshold.

Speaking to Siegel, Matthews said, « I think my hand and everything feels a lot better, just stronger. » It was visibly noticeable watching him play this season. He’s averaging just 12.6 shot attempts per 60 minutes, a decent drop from the nearly 14 he was making during his dominant campaign a year ago.

« It was like something was wrong, » Matthews told Siegel. « I just felt like not completely, like I wasn’t able to do exactly what I wanted sometimes. »

Despite struggling by comparison, Matthews’ 31 goals trail only William Nylander (35) for the team lead in goalscoring, and his 67 points put him third behind Mitch Marner (85) and Nylander (79). Matthews’ ice time (20:02) is the lowest since 2018-19, and his 12.4 overall shooting percentage is the lowest of his career – he had 17.2 last year and 18, 5 the previous year. Matthews has won the Rocket Richard twice in his career, first catching it in 2021 when he scored 41 goals in 52 games during the COVID-19-shortened season.

In other Leafs news, Ryan O’Reilly returned to practice after ironically breaking his finger on a Matthews shot. General manager Kyle Dubas said O’Reilly should return before the Stanley Cup Playoffs start. Luke Schenn also returned to practice after spending time in Vancouver with his wife following the birth of their baby.

The Leafs are second in the Atlantic Division with a 40-18-8 record. They are 6-4-0 in the last 10 games and recently gave up a two-goal lead to Buffalo in a loss on Monday. Toronto will host Colorado later tonight before closing out the week with fights against Carolina and Ottawa.

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