This week could be classified as one of the turning points of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ season depending on how they respond to the latest news. After a bounce back week with two wins against the Winnipeg Jets and some milestone moments for a couple of players, new broke that star forward Auston Matthews could be looking at a month without hockey.
With that, here’s a look at some of the top storylines from the past week of Maple Leafs’ hockey.
News broke early Monday that Matthews would be placed on the injured reserve and is expected to miss up to four weeks following a hit from Jets’ defenceman Jacob Trouba. Matthews played just under eight minutes and had two shots on goal before he left the game during the second period.
According to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, “this is at least the third shoulder injury Matthews has dealt with.” He experienced a second-degree separation last season and had one during his teen years.
Related: Auston Matthews Out 4 Weeks
While it will be a slow process, word is Matthews will not require surgery.
In 11 games this season, Matthews led the Maple Leafs in both goals (10) and points (16). With him out of the lineup for the next month, Nazem Kadri could be bumped up to a line with Patrick Marleau and Kasperi Kapanen with the John Tavares line sticking together.
500 Games Later
Along with tallying their eighth win of the season on Saturday against the Jets, two Maple Leafs’ players suited up for their 500th career NHL games – both Tyler Ennis and Jake Gardiner.
Ennis, 29, played just his eighth game with the Maple Leafs, but reached the milestone following eight seasons with the Buffalo Sabres and one with the Minnesota Wild. Over his career, he’s collected 106 goals and 260 points in 500 regular season games.
For Gardiner, a former 17th overall pick, he’s played the entirety of his career with the Maple Leafs. Having debuted with the club in 2011-12, Gardiner has collected 43 goals and 222 points in his 500 games donning the blue and white.
The 28-year-old defenceman ranks 13th all-time on the Maple Leafs in games played by a defenceman and 12th in points. He needs just one point to tie Dave Ellett and Jimmy Thomson for 10th on the club’s all-time list.
Gardiner currently has seven points in 11 games this season, averaging nearly 22 minutes per game.
Kadri Moving Up the List
Along with Ennis and Gardiner, Kadri also reached an individual milestone on Saturday against the Jets. With a goal, he tallied his 319th regular season point for the Maple Leafs in his 499th career game, tying him with Darcy Tucker for 33rd on the team’s all-time points list.
While it took Tucker 531 games to reach the same mark, Kadri tallied 147 goals and 172 assists in 32 fewer games.
Now, the feisty forward sits just five points back of tying Charlie Conacher for 32nd on the team’s all-time list and he will get a chance to move on that when he suits up for his 500th career game on Monday night against the Calgary Flames.
Marner Reaches the Century Mark
Finally, Mitch Marner also reached an individual milestone on Saturday with his second assist of the game. With it, the 2015 fourth overall pick became just the third player from his draft year to record 100 assists during the regular season.
For Marner, it took just 170 games to reach the 100-assist mark as he continues to impress at the NHL level. With 15 points in 11 games this season, Marner is averaging one assist per game this year and is coming off a career-high 47 assists last season.
If Marner can continue this torrid pace, it could spell trouble for the organization as they look ahead to contract negotiations this summer with the 21-year-old forward.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.