Matthews to return for Maple Leafs against Rangers

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Matthews to return for Maple Leafs against Rangers

Matthews confirmed the nature of his latest injury Friday after participating in his first practice in two weeks.

The Leafs won each game Matthews missed in November, and in the six he not played since December 9, when he was hurt after colliding with teammate Morgan Rielly in Pittsburgh, the Leafs were 2-4-0.

With Matthews out, Toronto went 2-4 during a tough mid-December travel slate.

The Maple Leafs play the second game of a five-game road trip Saturday against the New York Rangers.

"I feel ready", Matthews said after the morning skate at Madison Square Garden.

Tonight he will be back in his customary spot centering Zach Hyman and William Nylander. Weirder still, and sticking with the theme of the National Hockey League not being forthright with injuries, no one ever technically said Matthews had a concussion.

Auston Matthews had a concussion. Fans who pay hundreds of dollars for tickets and merchandise deserve to know what is happening with their teams and when they can expect someone back in the lineup. Toronto is 6-4-0 in the 10 games he has missed this season, but went 2-4-0 while he was out with the concussion and scored two goals or fewer in five of those games; the exception was an 8-1 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. Just that he was 'suffering concussion symptoms.' I'm not sure there is a difference, but if there isn't, why make the distinction?

The problem with that, however, is that Matthews returned to the game afterwards. "You see how they've been without him a little bit. When he comes back, instantly it's someone who can light the lamp on you pretty easily and someone you have to play very hard". When the question of a concussion was first raised in the days following Matthews's injury, Babcock was evasive. Then they will hit the road for three games starting December 28 against the Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche and the Vegas Golden Knights. He said he did consult with some of his fellow Leafs who have endured concussions. "Stuff like that happens, and you've got to deal with it".

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