The Maple Leafs superstar on Tuesday didn’t practise for the second day in a row, but he could be in the lineup against the Edmonton Oilers at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday night.
Matthews’ PCR test negative, not ruled out for Leafs vs Oilers
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“His PCR today came back negative,” Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “He was held out today for precaution, just to await further results tomorrow. We will have to wait on that. At this point, he is not ruled out for tomorrow’s game.”
Keefe said that assistant coach Dean Chynoweth, who like Matthews tested positive for COVID-19 on a rapid test on Monday, has been confirmed positive.
The Leafs also did not have winger Ondrej Kase for practice at the Ford Performance Centre. His absence was not COVID-related.
“He tweaked something at the gym before practice, so he is going to be day to day,” Keefe said. “We will see how he responds tomorrow.”
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With Matthews out the past two days, Keefe has had captain John Tavares between Michael Bunting and Mitch Marner on the top line.
Bunting was moved into Matthews’ spot on the top power-play unit.
Whether Matthews does play against the Oilers won’t necessarily be a rubber stamp if he tests negative again.
“That will be up to Auston and the medical team,” Keefe said. “That’s hypothetical at this point.
“We practised different things here today preparing in the event that we wouldn’t have Auston, just so we’re not caught off-guard if that is the case. We have used our time appropriately.
“If it’s deemed that he is ready to play and able to play, we’re confident he can just drop right in from a system and structure standpoint.
“As for his health, that is out of my hands. They will me whether he is available and we will go from there.”
With Kase out, Keefe used defenceman Alex Biega as the right winger on a line with David Kampf and Pierre Engvall.