Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Campbell, Woll, Matthews & Mrazek

Last night, the Toronto Maple Leafs were on the wrong side of the score for the first time in a while, and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat them for the second time in two months. Maple Leafs’ fans will recall the first game against the Penguins because it was likely the Maple Leafs’ lowest point of the season. That score was 7-1 for the Penguins.

This time the team didn’t play poorly, but they simply couldn’t get their offense going and Penguin’s goalie Tristan Jarry registered his second shutout in a row. On Thursday night, Jarry and his team shut out the Montreal Canadiens by a score of 6-0.

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The Penguins seem to be able to handle the Maple Leafs, outscoring them 9-1 over the last two games the teams have played. With that loss, the Maple Leafs’ five-game winning streak is over. On the other side, with that win, Pittsburgh now has its own two-game winning streak started. For as good as the Penguins looked against the home team last night, it’s the first time they’ve won two games in a row all season.

In this edition of Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’ll look at some of the player news from the game. As well, I’ll share news about Petr Mrazek’s injury and recovery. 

Item One: Sheldon Keefe Puts It Bluntly: The Penguins Were Better

From what I saw as I watched the game, the Penguins pressed the Maple Leafs hard defensively and Toronto just couldn’t generate sustained offensive pressure. Even with a two-man power play near the end of the game, the Penguins pressured the puck hard and the power play simply struggled. The 5-on-3 during the third period amounted to nothing.

Keefe admitted as much. His comment was that “Just like how we lost to a good team, we lost to a good penalty kill. They were just flat-out better than us.” There was no nuance there. 

Sheldon Keefe Toronto Maple Leafs
Sheldon Keefe, head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Keefe went on to add, “They defend real hard and make it tough on you. We got what we deserved in terms of our offense because we just didn’t make enough happen offensively.” 

I don’t always agree with everything Keefe does as a coach, but I admit we were watching the same game.

Item Two: Jack Campbell Played Well Enough to Win, But …

As noted in the item above, Jack Campbell simply didn’t get the help he needed to win. On the night, he gave up only two goals on the 31 shots he faced. The first goal he might have saved, but the second was a goofy bounce where the Penguins’ Jeff Carter just was skating in the right direction and it sort of floated off his stick into the net. 

Those two goals came early; and, after that Campbell stopped everything. But a team simply can’t win when it doesn’t score. Even with the odd loss like this one, Campbell is having a great season. 

Recently I’ve heard some grumbling that the Maple Leafs erred when they didn’t re-sign Frederik Andersen, but I’m not buying it. I’m an Andersen fan, but right now he might be playing for the best team in the NHL in the Carolina Hurricanes. I like this Maple Leafs’ team and hope they can do well, but it might be a better season to be a Hurricanes’ fan. 

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

From my point of view, choosing Campbell over Andersen was the right move. Campbell is no longer tied with his old teammate Frederik Andersen for NHL goalie wins (Andersen now has 11 wins to Campbell’s 10); but, he remains ahead in goals-against-average with a 1.66 and in save percentage at .944. He looks every bit like the 2010 first-round pick (11th overall) of the NHL Entry Draft. 

We’ll see when the season’s done how those two goalies match up.

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Item Three: Injured Goalie Petr Mrazek Has Started to Skate Again

For the first time since Petr Mrazek re-injured his groin, he was back on the ice and skating. The prognosis is that he’s probably a little more than two weeks away from getting back into a game; however, it’s good news that he’s back skating. 

It’s been a tough season for Mrazek, but if he can stay healthy he’ll probably be in the net for early December and move Joseph Woll back to the Toronto Marlies.  

Item Four: Joseph Woll: Starting against Islanders

Speaking of Joseph Woll, Maple Leafs’ fans will get a chance to see him start his second NHL game today on the road against the New York Islanders. Woll wasn’t great, but he was good enough to win his NHL debut a week ago against the Buffalo Sabres. With the Islanders, he facing a team that has a number of players lost to COVID-19 protocols.

What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

The Islanders are a struggling team that’s lost five straight games and lost last night to the Calgary Flames by a score of 5-2. Both teams are on the second game of a back-to-back. Until Mrazek returns to the line-up, it’s likely that Woll will be the backup. So they’ll likely see him again after this start.

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Maple Leafs’ fans have to hope their team can pick up the offense. I thought that Matthews looked frustrated last night. He had lots of play, but no scoresheet results. This would be a good time for him to explode with a few goals.