12:23 pm: Head coach Sheldon Keefe said during post-practice media availability that Matthews was “fine,” thankfully meaning he won’t miss any time.
12:12 pm: Toronto Maple Leafs fans are holding their collective breath on Friday morning. Superstar forward Auston Matthews left the team’s practice early today after blocking a shot, skating around in visible discomfort.
While Matthews isn’t on pace for a second consecutive 60-goal season in 2022-23, he’s still producing at over a point-per-game pace. He has eight goals and 11 assists for 19 points through 18 games on the year, one back of the team lead in points (Mitch Marner, 20) and goals (John Tavares, 9). The Leafs are expected to issue an update on Matthews prior to tomorrow’s home game against the Buffalo Sabres.
- For a different Eastern Conference team, it’s more promising news on the injury front. A pair of important Carolina Hurricanes forwards was spotted skating before practice this morning, including offseason acquisition Max Pacioretty. Acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights along with defenseman Dylan Coghlan in a cap-dump move, Pacioretty ruptured his Achilles tendon in early August and was expected to return in early February at the soonest. While there’s no indication he’ll return to the lineup anytime soon, it’s a promising sign for his trajectory and a solid sign he’ll be back earlier than the February timeline.
- Forward Teuvo Teravainen, who’s missed the past three games with an upper-body injury, was also out skating with Pacioretty this morning. After sustaining the injury on November 10, he’s eligible to return from injured reserve as his health permits. The timeline for his return is still unknown, however.