Matthews focuses on start of season with Maple Leafs – .

Matthews focuses on start of season with Maple Leafs – .

TORONTO — Auston Matthews remains focused on his preparation for the Toronto Maple Leafs when they face the Montreal Canadiens in their regular season opener on October 13.

“I take it day by day and plan and still hope for that first game,” Matthews said on Monday. “I feel pretty good. I think each day has progressed pretty well. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been able to take it up a few notches and handle the puck and the shot and feel more comfortable. Taking reps with the guys is a good sign for me. ”
The center, who underwent wrist surgery on Aug. 13, wondered less if he would play in any of Toronto’s last three preseason games, against the Ottawa Senators on Monday (7 p.m. ET; SN), the Canadiens on Tuesday and Ottawa again. Saturday.

“I think there would be a lot of value in different aspects, but I’m really not too sure,” Matthews said. “We have a few games left so we’ll see how it goes throughout the week. “

Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe has said he’s not sure Matthews is ready to play in the preseason.

“When Auston and the medical team deem it appropriate for him to resume his full participation and be ready for games, of course we will bring him in,” said Keefe. “Until then, he will continue to follow his process and I have no doubt that he will be ready. “

Matthews took part in contact drills on Sunday and skated on Monday wearing a red non-contact jersey. He said he was satisfied with the reaction of the wrist after the hour-long session.

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“I think it was safer,” Matthews said. “I think the boys know you shouldn’t try to push me through the boards just yet.

“Today was good to go into the corners with the guys and feel that pressure and the other bodies on you around the corner and work on it. It all felt pretty solid, so I was pretty happy with it. I couldn’t wait to come back and test it out jumping a bit into a few exercises and feeling it. Today was a good step to take part in the full training. It was good. “

Matthews suffered a wrist injury for most of last season, as he led the NHL with 41 goals in 52 games. He said he still suffers from mild pain that occasionally occurs during exercises, but it’s more about working out during the process of returning from surgery.

“It’s just about getting my strength back to where I felt when I was 100% healthy,” Matthews said. “It’s definitely getting there. It just takes time but I’m happy to know where it started. It’s not quite where I want it to be, but I like where it’s progressing and where it’s going. I can only control what I can control as as long as this whole process has been going well and I’m happy where I am. I’ll just keep pushing and hoping for the best here. “

Matthews is also looking to build a relationship with the left wing Nick Ritchie, his new trio companion with the right wing Mitchell Marner. Zach Hyman skated with Matthews and Marner before signing a seven-year contract with the Edmonton Oilers as an unrestricted free agent on July 28.

Ritchie signed a two-year contract with the Maple Leafs on July 31.

“It’s been good in the couple exercises we’ve had together,” Matthews said. “He’s obviously a very tall boy (6ft 2in, 230lb) but he can play games. It’s really impressive, forehand, backhand with guys on him, he’s so big and it’s hard to take the puck away from him. and he has a great vision. So far it’s been pretty good and we just need to keep building that chemistry and getting more reps together. ”


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