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Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly is having an off year compared to his own lofty standards, but there’s a reason behind his relatively slow first half of the season.
Rielly revealed to The Athletic’s Jonas Siegel that he’s been playing through discomfort with an undisclosed injury.
“It was a pretty significant amount of pain,” Rielly said. “But I did my MRIs and everything like that and there was no damage to the real important things. So it was just a matter of pain management.”
“We took some action over the Christmas holidays and I’m feeling much better after some minor stuff that we did,” he added. “And I think it’s just having confidence — and the pain is way lower than it was, and I’m able to just go out and play more.”
Rielly has posted three goals and 25 points in 44 games, while averaging 24:19 in ice time. He’s coming off a season where he posted a career-best 20 goals and 72 points. The 25-year-old’s defensive shortcomings have been highlighted this season and he was recently posterized by Connor McDavid - although few can fault him for being helpless against the NHL’s most unstoppable force.
“I think there were times last year where I’d shoot the puck and it would hit something and go in, and that’s just the way it was going,” Rielly said. “And this year it’s not necessarily going that way.”
Rielly hasn’t lost the confidence of his teammates, and it’s clear that the seventh-year pro doesn’t feel like he’s shouldering an extra layer of responsibility as the Maple Leafs surge through the standings after stumbling out of the gate.
“You’re just one of 23 individuals, and your job is to help the team win games,” Rielly said.
“That’s what you get paid for. The job isn’t you. The job is for the team to win so you do what you have to do in order to help that. There are times within the year, or within your career, where that changes — what that means. But I think it’s important that we all stay focused on that and I think with the personnel that’s in this group I think we have a lot of that. I think we’re all focused on a bigger goal.”
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