Maple Leafs’ Matthews ‘ready to go’ in Boston, but still managing mystery injury

BOSTON — Auston Matthews is back.

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ No. 1 centre returns to the lineup Saturday in Boston after sitting out two games with an undisclosed injury.

Matthews declined to get into details of his mystery ailment, which has been bugging him “on and off for a little while” and has affected “little details” in his game. Still, it is something he’s been able to manage for most of this season.

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“It’s just something that’s kind of been nagging me for a little bit, and it’s definitely been fine to play through and stuff,” Matthews said, following morning skate.

“I don’t feel like it’s affected me to the point where I couldn’t play up until just a couple of days ago, where it just kind of blew up on me a little bit.

“It feels much better. I feel ready to go.”

The Maple Leafs defeated the Nashville Predators 2-1 on Wednesday and lost to the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 on Thursday in Matthews’ absence.

The first-place Bruins are hungry to rebound from their first regulation home loss since April, a 3-0 blanking by the Seattle Kraken at TD Garden on Thursday.

This showdown between two of the top three clubs in the NHL is the type of marquee matchup Matthews does not want to miss, even it means pushing through some discomfort.

“[TD Garden] is definitely a hostile environment throughout the game, but it makes for a fun game, a fun atmosphere,” Matthews said.

“That’s the kind of games that you kinda live for.”

Matthews is also recovering from an illness that is running through the Maple Leafs dressing room. Despite Friday being a full off-day for the players to enjoy their fathers’ trip, Matthews skated anyway.

“He’s a warrior. He’s the leader on our team,” said Leafs forward Wayne Simmonds. “The way he works in practice on the ice off he is a good example for guys to follow.”

Matthews has scored 20 goals and 27 assists in 41 games — impressive numbers but well below his 60-goal MVP performance of 2021-22.

His defensive game has remained elite, but without clarity on his injury, speculation that it is affecting his shot could linger.

Matthews said he and the Leafs medical staff will need to stay on top of his ailment this season to ensure he’s getting the care and treatment necessary to perform every night.

“Regardless if he’s 100 per cent or not, he still contributes to a lot of our success on that ice. So, it’s always nice to have him in the lineup, and he always wants to battle to try and be on that ice to help us win,” said teammate Mitch Marner.

“That’s just the competitiveness in him.”

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One-Timers: Forwards Pontus Holmberg and Bobby McMann did not participate in the morning skate due to illness and are not expected to play. … Goalie Matt Murray skipped morning skate to save his energy for Saturday’s start. … Toronto will use either defenceman Morgan Rielly on the power play or go with the five-forwards approach, depending on how the game unfolds. Head coach Sheldon Keefe wants options.

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Maple Leafs’ projected lines for Saturday in Boston:

Bunting – Matthews – Nylander

Järnkrok – Tavares – Marner

Aston-Reese – Kämpf – Engvall

Hunt – Kerfoot – Simmonds

Rielly – Timmins

Giordano – Holl

Sandin – Liljegren

Murray starts


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