Goalie Toughness, the Atlantic & Storm Coming

On this trial column, which we’ve titled “Toronto Maple Leafs Commentary,” we’re going to share concepts, commentary concerning the Maple Leafs, ideas concerning the gamers on the staff, the occasions of the season, in addition to concepts that come to us as we watch and write concerning the staff we cowl.

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On this first column, we’ll touch upon goalies Jack Campbell and Petr Mrazek, the scenario the Maple Leafs discover themselves in inside their very own Atlantic Division, the final two video games with the New Jersey Devils earlier than the All-Star break, and among the gamers – together with Timothy Liljegren.

The final two video games Jack Campbell has performed brought on us to consider the psychological toughness of goalies. In a single sport he performed so badly he was pulled; and, within the subsequent sport, he performed nice and got here inside a aim of recording a shutout.

Jack Campbell, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

How can a goalie have such a stinker of a sport after which come again and play lights out? That’s not a rhetorical query, we don’t get it.

Throughout the second New Jersey Devils’ sport, the very fact is that Campbell regarded just like the Campbell of outdated and the goalie we’ve come to anticipate to see night time after night time within the web for the Maple Leafs. Even given the staff’s seven objectives, Campbell might need been probably the most vital issue within the 7-1 win over the Devils.  

Though it was just one sport, Leafs’ Nation should have breathed a collective sigh of reduction watching Campbell’s efficiency. We additionally admit that we have been apprehensive about Campbell headed to the All-Star sport along with his head the place it should have been over the previous few weeks. 

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In a technique, as a result of the staff’s deal with the offensive aspect of the sport and never partaking in a complete sport expertise, the All-Star sport is rarely place for goalies. All the perfect shooters within the NHL have the liberty to roam and hearth at will; and, these are really the perfect gamers and shooters on the earth. The secret is actually to attain as many objectives as potential.  

Ron Hextall Philadelphia Flyers
Ron Hextall, Philadelphia Flyers, was an intense goalie (Picture by John Giamundo/Getty Photographs)

We are able to’t think about a goalie like Rox Hextall or Billy Smith – of their days – dealing effectively with the philosophy of an All-Star sport. Hopefully, nevertheless, Campbell can simply calm down and have enjoyable with it and all of the accompanying festivities.

Remark Two: Is that this the Petr Mrazek Kyle Dubas Anticipated to Present Up?

In Petr Mrazek’s final 4 begins, even together with the 4 objectives he gave up towards the Detroit Pink Wings, he has a save proportion of .921 and a goals-against-average proper round 2.00. That’s what Kyle Dubas needed to be hoping for when he signed the Czech goalie to the three-year $3.8 million deal throughout the offseason. If Mrazek performs at this stage, it’s going to be an important assist to the Maple Leafs as they compete with the 2 Florida groups for first place within the Atlantic Division and to have an prolonged playoff run throughout the postseason.

Petr Mrazek, Toronto Maple Leafs
Petr Mrazek, Toronto Maple Leafs (Picture by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire by way of Getty Photographs

Hopefully, Mrazek’s play may even have a optimistic impression on Campbell. It must be extra enjoyable for a goalie to know he doesn’t should do all of the staff’s heavy lifting and that he has a reliable accomplice. 

Remark Three: The Want for the Maple Leafs to Transfer Up within the Atlantic Standings

Prior to those final 4 video games, we had written that it could be useful for the staff to win all 4 video games if it needed to remain within the hunt for first place within the Atlantic. The Maple Leafs had entered this four-game stretch 10 factors behind the Florida Panthers and eight behind the Tampa Bay Lightning with 5 video games in hand.  

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On the similar time, the Maple Leafs have been additionally solely three factors forward of the Boston Bruins with a sport in hand. After successful all 4 video games, they’re now eight factors behind Florida whereas nonetheless having the identical 5 video games in hand. They’ve additionally closed to inside 5 factors of the Lightning with 4 video games in hand. Lastly, they’ve stretched their lead over Boston to 6 factors with a sport in hand. 

Remark 4: The Scoresheet Absence of John Tavares and William Nylander

Total within the staff’s final two video games towards the Devils, the Maple Leafs outscored the Devils 13 to five. Mitch Marner led the way in which with seven factors (together with three objectives and 4 assists). Marner was additionally a plus-7.  Matthews chipped in with 4 objectives and two assists (for six factors). He was a plus-6. Ilya Mikheyev added a aim and two assists (for 3 factors). He was a plus-3. Lastly, Jason Spezza, David Kampf, Pierre Engvall, Michael Bunting, Morgan Rielly, and Alex Kerfoot all had two factors.

William Nylander Toronto Maple Leafs
William Nylander, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Conspicuously lacking amongst these gamers have been John Tavares and William Nylander. Not solely did these two gamers not issue into the scoring, however they have been additionally every a minus-3 over the 2 video games. 

Ought to Maple Leafs’ followers fear? We don’t really feel there’s something to fret about there. Nonetheless, it does present that any NHL season has ups and downs; and, clearly, this was a pair of down video games for these prolific scorers.

Remark 5: Timothy Liljegren Is Making a Case for Extra Taking part in Time

Positive, each every so often Timothy Liljegren makes a mistake. Nonetheless, he additionally had an help within the two video games. Extra importantly, he was a plus-5 in these video games. He’s making a powerful case to stay within the lineup when Jake Muzzin returns.  

Remark Six: Maple Leafs’ Followers, That is the Calm Earlier than the Storm

We hope the Maple Leafs’ gamers have a while throughout the All-Star break to calm down, breathe, and revel in themselves. This week is the calm earlier than the storm. 

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The schedule for the final half of the season can be grueling for many NHL groups, however particularly the Canadian-based groups. Followers may have some hockey to look at, which we’re certain can be each thrilling and disturbing.  

[Note: I want to thank long-time Maple Leafs’ fan Stan Smith for collaborating with me on this post. Stan’s Facebook profile can be found here.]