The week from Monday, February 14 to Saturday, February 19 was a tough week from which to pick three Toronto Maple Leafs stars. Some players had great games but also had terrible games. All three of our picks had good, and bad, moments during the week.
Last week, the Maple Leafs played three games. On Monday, they beat the Seattle Kraken by a score of 6-2. On Thursday, they played a great game to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 4-1. Finally, on Saturday, they lost a poorly-played 6-3 game to the St. Louis Blues.
The week itself was a fairly successful one for the Maple Leafs because they won two of the three games. The problem with “only” winning two-thirds of your games is that when you are trying to catch two teams playing .700 plus hockey, you are inevitably going to lose ground.
It also didn’t help that the team lost to the Montreal Canadiens last night. However, that will be part of our conversation next week.
First Star: Jack Campbell
Jack Campbell started all three games the Maple Leafs played last week. Despite giving up five goals in the St. Louis Blues’ game, which is something Campbell has done in five of his last eleven starts, he only gave up three goals in the other two games. He finished the week with a .923 save percentage and a 2.67 goals-against average.
Getting back to our good-bad comment, the good with Campbell was the first two games of the week. In those games, his save percentage was .958 and his goals-against average was 1.50. The bad, of course, was his last game, where he had a .849 save percentage and a goals-against-average of 5.02. His performance in the first two games was good enough for us to name him the first star of the week.
Second Star: Morgan Rielly
We usually wouldn’t give a player a star for one or two good plays; however, Morgan Rielly’s end-to-end Bobby Orresque, rush goal was one of the highlights of the season. The fact that he added a really nice assist on a short-handed goal in the same game was a bonus.
Like Campbell however, this was far from a perfect week for Rielly. He had a solid, but quiet game in the 6-2 win over the Kraken and a great game versus the Penguins. However, he was on the ice for four of the six goals the Blues scored on Saturday.
Third Star: William Nylander
William Nylander decided to get the bad out of the way early during the week. The first goal Seattle scored Monday night was all on him. With the five skaters on the ice completely gassed following a minute and a half shift spent entirely in their own zone, Nylander gained the puck, had lots of time, and for some unknown reason decided to dump it back into his zone. The Kraken scored.
Nylander’s best game was the third game where he scored the Maple Leafs’ first two goals to bring them back from a 2-0 deficit. Nylander finished the week with two goals and two assists for four points. He also had seven shots on the net, and all were excellent scoring chances. His two goals in the Blues games ended an eight-game goalless drought.
Unsung Hero: David Kampf
Kampf could have easily been one of our three stars this week. After going a whole season with the Chicago Blackhawks and only scoring once, Kampf scored two goals this week – both shorthanded. He added an assist on the game-tying third Maple Leaf’s goal by T.J. Brodie against the Blues to give him three points in the three games.
The Week Ahead
The Maple Leafs have a busy week ahead of them this week, as they play four games in six nights, starting with back-to-back games on Monday in Montreal and Tuesday in Columbus. They return home on Thursday to play the Minnesota Wild, before going back on the road Saturday for a visit to the Detroit Red Wings.
It will be interesting to see where Sheldon Keefe places newly acquired Ilya Lubushkin in the lineup. It also makes us wonder if any other deals are coming up in the near future.
[Note: I want to thank long-time Maple Leafs’ fan Stan Smith for collaborating with me on this post. Stan’s Facebook profile can be found here.]
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