The Toronto Maple Leafs Jack Campbell-in-goal era has just begun. It’s only five games into his season; however, so far Campbell is perfect. Well almost perfect.
No one can fault Campbell’s play “in” the crease, and he looks excellent in goal. He seems to be able suck every puck that comes towards him into his body like he’s a giant vacuum cleaner. As a result, he’s been the kind of goalie that prevents rebounds from going astray. That, obviously, makes it so much easier on the skaters in front of him to clear the puck and keep it from the back of the net.
Maple Leafs’ Fans Learned Something New About Campbell Last Night
Still, Maple Leafs’ fans did learn something new about Campbell’s game last night in the team’s overtime 3-2 victory over a tough, young Ottawa Senators hockey team. Campbell is not the best puck-handling goalie in the NHL. He might not even be above average.
The simple fact is that the Senators scored only two goals during the game. Those goals came on 31 shots; and, given the way Campbell was playing, there’s a good chance that the Senators wouldn’t have scored those two goals except for Campbell’s on-ice goofs trying to puck-handle. He made two glaring errors, and those errors cost the team two glaring goals.
I’m a Jack Campbell Fan for Many Reasons
Don’t get me wrong, if you’ve read my previous posts you’ll know that I’m a Jack Campbell fan. Although he doesn’t have the body of work behind him to know for sure, I think he might just turn out to be a great goalie. I’m also certain that Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas did his due diligence when he went out to find a backup goalie two seasons ago. I think he chose wisely.
Perhaps even better is the fact that Campbell seems to be the kind of person you’d like to have as a teammate. The word from his current teammates is that he’s always positive. He’s always encouraging. He’s the kind of guy who’s good to hang around with simply because he’s happy most of the time. No drama would seem to be a good thing during a difficult hockey season.
The fact that he can’t handle the puck as well as the Edmonton Oilers’ goalie Mike Smith doesn’t make him a bad goalie. However, it will make life a bit of an adventure and will be something fans will watch when he leaves the crease to play the puck.
Campbell’s Dramatics Might Make the Next Few Games Interesting
I’m certain Maple Leafs’ fans will be curious to watch over the next few games to see if that on-ice action repeats itself. One can hope this is only a one-off (well, Ok a two-off).
In the video below, you can see the Senators’ Connor Brown take advantage of Campbell’s misplayed puck to score the Senators’ first goal of the game. As the video shows, Campbell got caught behind the net trying to figure out which way to move the puck. He guessed wrong, and the Senator’s took advantage.
Fortunately, Despite Mistakes the Maple Leafs Still Won
Brown’s goal was scored late in the first period to give the Senators a 1-0 lead. Fortunately, for the Maple Leafs, Campbell’s creativity with the puck behind the net didn’t cost the team in the won-loss column.
One of the interesting things at the end of the video is that Maple Leafs’ captain John Tavares can be seen skating up to Campbell to offer encouragement. That’s what good captains do.
Could Campbell’s Play Be the Start of Something Special?
As I noted, it will be interesting to see how Campbell responds over the next few games. So far this season, he has a perfect 5-0 record. He also has an amazing goals-against-average of 1.18 and save percentage of .958. Likely those numbers will rise as the season goes on, because it’s difficult to keep up such stellar play.
Or, is it possible that Campbell’s simply that good and that what Maple Leafs fans are seeing is a foretaste of something very special that’s starting to happen in Toronto? We’ll soon see. One can only hope.
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).
If you wonder why he doesn’t use his real name, it’s because his son – who’s also Jim Parsons – wrote for The Hockey Writers first and asked Jim Sr. to use another name so readers wouldn’t confuse their work.
Because Jim Sr. had worked in China, he adopted the Mandarin word for teacher (老師). The first character lǎo (老) means “old,” and the second character shī (師) means “teacher.” The literal translation of lǎoshī is “old teacher.” That became his pen name. Today, other than writing for The Hockey Writers, he teaches graduate students research design at several Canadian universities.
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