The Toronto Maple Leafs are a different team at the start of this season than they were at the start of last season. Every aspect of the team seems improved. The forwards added a bit of bite and are likely harder to play against; the defense added that missing link in T.J. Brodie that has been missing for several years. There’s also a new pair of back-up goalies in Jack Campbell and Aaron Dell.
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However, one thing that’s the same is that the starting goalie is still Frederik Andersen. And the question remains: is having Andersen a good thing or a bad thing? In fact, that’s the question that Shawn McKenzie, Steve Dangle, and Luke Fox discuss in this video.
Criticisms of Andersen and the Place of Campbell
In the video, McKenzie interviewed Dangle and Fox to talk about the importance of goalie play during a shortened and condensed NHL season. Specifically, Dangle and Fox discussed whether the criticisms of Andersen warranted and how big a role will Jack Campbell would play during the NHL season.
Both hockey commentators agreed that having two good goalies is an improved situation for the team. Both agreed that the team got virtually no points from their backup last season. However, when Campbell came to the team at the trade deadline that really improved things.
Are Criticisms of Maple Leafs Goalie Frederik Andersen Justified?
Fox believed Kyle Dubas must have liked something about Michael Hutchison. First, during the regular season Dubas downplayed how big an issue the back-up goalie situation was for the team; and, second, he re-signed Hutchinson to a two-way contract during the offseason. Likely Hutchinson will play for the Toronto Marlies.
However, Dubas’ actions spoke louder than his words and he traded for Campbell. This season, there are so many goalies that there should be internal competition up and down the line-up. If Andersen slips, someone else will step in to grab the job in net for a while. But certainly, it’ll be Andersen’s net to lose.
Why Critique of Andersen is Warranted
On the video, Dangle was asked if he believed any of the criticisms directed toward Andersen were warranted. Was there a reason his name was bounced around in trade rumors? Dangle agreed that, if Andersen had won any playoff series, they wouldn’t be having this conversation. However, because he hasn’t won a single playoff series to date, he believed there were perfectly legitimate criticisms of Andersen.
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Dangle’s bottom line was that he had watched the Maple Leafs over the past four seasons and he didn’t come away with the conclusion that Andersen was THE problem. Still, he noted that the team would “go as far as he takes them.” He also believed the help the team got during the offseason would hopefully get them past the first round.
If Andersen Wasn’t Always Second-Best in the Playoffs
Fox believed Andersen was feeling a little bit of heat because he’s had four playoff series with the Maple Leafs and “he’s been the second-best goalie in every one of those series.” Although he’s generally played well, he’s let in some backbreaking goals. But Fox agreed with Dangle that Andersen is not alone. None of the Maple Leafs have made it past the first round.
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His call is that it’s time Andersen show that he can get the team over the hump. If he can do that, he could be the most valuable UFA next summer.