As the Toronto Maple Leafs prepare to face the Ottawa Senators in the team’s second to last game of the season, in this edition of Maple Leafs’ News & Roster Moves I will share information directly impacting tonight’s game lineup.
Item One: It Was Either Frederik Andersen or Zach Hyman
It seems as if the Toronto Maple Leafs decided it’s better to give Fredrick Andersen some work prior to the playoffs than it is to get Zach Hyman back into the lineup. Fans shouldn’t be confused about the decision that the Maple Leafs made to start Anderson in goal and simultaneously move Hyman to the long-term injured reserve (LTIR).
The move has little to do with injuries. It’s all about opening salary-cap space. The only way to give Anderson some time in goal watch the move someone out so there would be salary cap space available to put him on the roster. That someone was Hyman.
The logic makes perfect sense to me. Hyman is a fast starter; Anderson simply is not. Thus, it’s more important to give Anderson some game action than it is to get Hyman game action.
Given each player’s history, Hyman is probably fine to miss the last two regular-season games. On the other hand, Andersen is notoriously slow out of the gate and might benefit more from game action. Hence, I believe coach Keefe chose to give Andersen a game in goal to at least help him become more playoff ready player believing Hyman would be able to turn on the gas more easily.
Related: The Evolution of Brad Marchand
In addition, being a goalie is different than being a player. Hence if Andersen shows well, he’ll likely be more confident headed into any playoff action he might see.
Item Two: Jack Campbell Announced as Starter Against the Winnipeg Jets
With Andersen starting tonight against the Senators, it was announced today that Jack Campbell would start on Friday against the Winnipeg Jets. Coach Keefe laid out the plan giving Campbell the start in the team’s regular-season finale.
There’s been no announcement about who the team’s goalie would be to begin the playoffs. Campbell has never started a postseason game since he came into the NHL in 2013-14, so obviously Andersen has tons more playoff experience. However, Campbell’s clearly been the superior goalie this season and probably more directly responsible for the team’s North Division title.
Given that contribution to the team, it only makes sense to me that Campbell will be the starter for Game 1 of the team’s first-round series with the Montreal Canadiens and should stay between the pipes until – or if – he falters.
Campbell will be trying to win his 18th game of the season on the road against the Jets. Should he win, that would push his season’s record to 18-2-2.
Item Three: Justin Holl Is Expected to Play Tonight
Justin Holl apparently missed Monday’s practice as a “maintenance” move, but he’s expected to play tonight. On the season, Holl has scored two goals and 18 assists (for 20 points) in 53 games.
Item Four: Nick Foligno Is also Expected to Play Tonight
Nick Foligno has responded well to treatment, was able to fully engage in practice on Tuesday, and also is expected to be back on the ice tonight against the Senators. He’s missed two games with his upper-body re-injury last week.
Since coming from the Columbus Blue Jackets, Foligno has four assists in five games skating mostly on the team’s first line with Auston Matthew and Mitch Marner. If practice yesterday is any indication, there’s a chance he could be partnered with John Tavares and William Nylander.
What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?
Andersen will be an interesting player to watch tonight. My eyes will be on his ability to move in goal – is his knee strong enough to engage the torque involved in the movements goalies need to make quickly at the NHL level?
In his two games with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies that were mainly for tune-up purposes, Andersen’s body seemed to survive the wear and tear; however, he hardly prospered. He gave up six goals in 52 shots faced against AHL-level competition.
Still, it’s tough to say how that play might translate to his game tonight. Let’s hope he shows well. If he does, a Campbell and Andersen combination could prove to be a strong playoff tandem.
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