When the Toronto Maple Leafs met the Winnipeg Jets last night in the first game of the team’s four-game road trip, it was two of the top teams in the NHL’s North Division going against each other. The Maple Leafs simply came out so quickly on top of their game that the Jets couldn’t keep up. By the time the Jets started to push back, it was too late.
As a result, the Maple Leafs took game one by a 3-1 score. In this edition of Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’ll comment on the game, those players who stood out for the team, and what the game might mean going forward.
Item One: Jack Campbell Wins Seventh Straight Game This Season
All my concern (and others’ concerns) that Jack Campbell was injured and might not play were simply non-existent. Campbell did indeed start versus the Jets, and he also did indeed also win his seventh straight game in goal on the season.
Campbell’s record remains clean on the season, winning all of his games for a perfect 7-0-0 record in 2020-21, a goals-against-average of 1.41, and a save percentage of .948. Those are the best numbers for any goalie in the NHL whose played as many games as he has. He’s also thrown two shutouts in there to boot.
In holding the Jets to only one power-play goal, he faced down one of the most powerful offenses in the NHL and a team who entered the game averaging almost four goals (3.80) over their last five games. However, also give the Maple Leafs’ team’s offense and defense some credit as well.
The Maple Leafs came out smoking and outshot the Jets early in the first period by a 13-2 margin. Zach Hyman registered six shots on net alone in the first period. As I noted, the Jets pushed back but the game never seemed in doubt.
Honestly, who knows the status of Campbell’s injury? Three things seem pretty clear: first, he likely didn’t exacerbate the injury in last night’s game; and, second, the Maple Leafs’ staff (training and coaching) are keeping him able to play well. Third, Campbell has had his share of injuries this year, but he’s been really strong when he’s been healthy. If his injury is healed or if the Maple Leafs can keep stitching him together, he’ll see plenty of game action while starter Frederik Andersen is sidelined with his own injury. After that – who knows?
Item Two: Just What is the Matter with Frederik Andersen?
Yesterday, prior to the game when head coach Sheldon Keefe announced that Campbell would be getting the start, he also gave a bit of a review on Andersen. The note simply admitted that the organization remains in the dark about what’s wrong and has sent Andersen for a follow-up appointment as a way to come to know more. All we can know from this comment is that something is wrong – and perhaps something not so small.
Andersen has been sidelined with a lower-body injury since March 19. He’s not skating and isn’t with the team on the road. Given that uncertainty, the Maple Leafs are fortunate that Campbell is playing so well.
Item Three: Auston Matthews Is on Another Goal-Scoring Streak
Funny thing about Auston Matthews. He’s simply seemed frustrated so many times lately by the Edmonton Oilers’ Mike Smith, who seemed to stop him repeatedly during the recent two-game min-series between the Oilers and the Maple Leafs. Still, he’s scoring regularly. It simply might mean that Matthews is really on top of his game again since the wrist injury and is getting a ton of chances.
Against the Jets, Matthews scored both a goal and an assist in the 3-1 victory. There’s no doubt that he’s one of the NHL’s best goal-scorers and players. Matthews started the game quickly with a goal less than five minutes into the first period and then had the first assist on Zach Hyman’s goal shortly thereafter. The 23-year-old Matthews currently is on a four-game point-scoring streak (three goals, three assists) and has registered 24 goals and 17 assists (for 41 points) in 33 games on the season.
Item Four: Mitch Marner Has Another Multi-Point Game
Mitch Marner scored two first-period assists against the Jets. It was the ninth time in his last 10 games (with three goals and nine assists in those 10 games) that he’s hit the scoresheet. As a result, he now sits in fourth place in the NHL scoring race with 46 points.
The Oilers’ Connor McDavid sits first with 63 points; the Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl is second with 54 points; and the Chicago Blackhawks Patrick Kane is third with 49 points.
Item Five: Zach Hyman Has Been on Fire
Zach Hyman was certainly one of the Maple Leafs’ stars of the game last night. Similar to his teammate Matthews, he scored both a goal and an assist and his six first-period shots led the team. Hyman has been one of his team’s leaders in their recent success and has scored four goals and four assists in his last seven games. Perhaps this is no surprise to Maple Leafs’ fans given the team’s lack of power-play success, but all his points have been at even strength.
What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?
The Jets and the Maple Leafs play again on Friday evening. I know I might be being a bit obsessive with my concern about the team’s goalie situation, but I’m watching to see if Michael Hutchinson will be in net for the Maple Leafs or whether the team will go with Campbell again. There seems to be no outward panic, however …
I like Hutchinson more than most Maple Leafs’ fans, I know; however, I really like Campbell as a goalie. Given his lack of NHL experience, there’s probably lots to learn. However, the team seems to enjoy playing with him in net. He has a sense of joie de vivre – a cheerful enjoyment of life – few others have.
If he can keep it throughout this season, that means the team is doing well.
The Old Prof (Jim Parsons, Sr.) taught for more than 40 years in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. He’s a Canadian boy, who has two degrees from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate from the University of Texas. He is now retired on Vancouver Island, where he lives with his family. His hobbies include playing with his hockey cards and simply being a sports fan – hockey, the Toronto Raptors, and CFL football (thinks Ricky Ray personifies how a professional athlete should act). He looks forward to sharing his insights about the Toronto Maple Leafs and about how sports engages life more fully. His Twitter address is https://twitter.com/TheOldProf