The Toronto Maple Leafs are hoping to get back to their winning ways after losing five of the last six games (1-3-2) prior to the bye week and the NHL All-Star break. A key aspect of their struggles defensively has been the absence of veteran Jake Muzzin, who has been out nearly a month with a foot injury.
The Leafs announced on Thursday that Muzzin has agreed to a conditioning stint with the AHL Toronto Marlies. The 30-year-old blueliner has been out of action since December 27 and is looking to test out his healed foot before Toronto returns to action next Monday against the Predators in Nashville.
The Marlies play back-to-back games in Cleveland on Friday and Saturday and it is likely that Muzzin will play in one of those games.
In other injury-related news, Auston Matthews has bowed out of participating in any of the on-ice events at the NHL All-Star game in St. Louis this weekend. Matthews has been dealing with an ongoing wrist injury and will be getting acute treatments.
News of a lingering injury emerged earlier this month, but that has not seemed to affect the Leafs leading scorer, who has 34 goals and trails only Boston’s David Pastrnak for the NHL lead.
Matthews will avoid any suspension for bowing out by joining teammates Mitch Marner and Frederik Andersen for the weekend festivities in St. Louis, but he will not take part in the skills competition on Saturday or game on Sunday.
In a vote of mid-season awards held by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, Leafs forward William Nylander received the most votes for Comeback Player of the Year.
Nylander had just 27 points (7 goals, 20 assists) in 54 games after a prolonged contract impasse last season, and beat out Ottawa forward Anthony Duclair and Max Pacioretty of the Vegas Golden Knights with excellent first half numbers (22 goals, 21 assists in 48 games) this season, trailing only Matthews and Marner in scoring.
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