The Toronto Maple Leafs may have found a bottom on their recent free fall down the standings. The team recorded its first regulation win in seven games with a 2-0 win over the Calgary Flames on Saturday. Before that, they had only had an overtime win in the previous six games. At one point, Toronto was up by nine points over second place in the North Division; now the Leafs are just seven points away from missing the playoffs.
This was predictable even before the season started. Frederik Andersen has been a fan favourite since he joined the team more than four years ago. However, his decline has been steepening. He is currently having his worst season in the NHL. He has been suffering from what is only described as a lower-body injury. If that is the reason for his decline, it seems to have worsened, as he let in the first goal he faced after a five-day break.
On the flipside, injury-prone Jack Campbell has been lights-out in all four of his appearances. After blanking the Calgary Flames on Saturday, the 29-year-old is now riding a 133-minute shutout streak going back to his last game against the Edmonton Oilers. He’s made 71 straight saves, and quite frankly, the team just seems to play better hockey in front of him. Sheldon Keefe has a few more days to assess the situation, but it seems that Campbell has earned the right to have the net. Check out the Maple Leafs Lounge for more discussion on the goalie situation and how this has the potential to turn into a long-term injured reserve situation.
The Leafs have lost a third player to the waiver wire this season. Travis Boyd has been claimed by the Vancouver Canucks. Boyd was put on the waivers to make room for Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds returned to the roster after suffering a broken wrist six weeks ago. Boyd is the second Maple Leaf to be picked up by Vancouver, who claimed Jimmy Vesey a week ago. Goalie Aaron Dell was claimed by the New Jersey Devils in January.
Galchenyuk Gets a Chance
Vesey was waived last week to add Alex Galchenyuk. Galchenyuk is a reclamation project. He’s been in the league since 2013 and had seasons of 50-plus points, but he’s been struggling to find a home, and his numbers have fallen off. When the season started, he was wearing an Ottawa Senators jersey. He was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes before being flipped to Toronto. The Leafs sent him to the minors. It was the first time in his career he’s been sent to the AHL. The Marlies staff gave him glowing reviews, and after eight points in six games, he earned his chance. Not only a chance, but he also lined up on the second line with John Tavares and William Nylander. Keefe liked what he saw; in fact, the second line was the only line combination he did not change after the first game against Calgary.
Dubas Media Conference
Kyle Dubas held a half an hour media conference to update the team’s progress and plans going forward. The general manager said he would trade a top prospect if the right deal was presented. He did say that most of his conversations have involved forwards but did not dismiss the possibility of adding a defenceman. Many observers believed the Leafs would make a deal last week, possibly this week, because Toronto only has four games in 14 days. Nothing has happened, and Dubas admitted quarantine rules will make it challenging to acquire a player.
The trade deadline is April 12. If Toronto acquired a player on that date, the player would only get seven regular-season games with the club before the playoffs start. Dubas has historically made trades well before the deadline, but that window is quickly closing. That said, he seems satisfied with the current roster, but is it the roster that can win a Stanley Cup is yet to be determined.
Kevin Armstrong is an award-winning journalist with more than two decades of experience. He’s been rink side for World Juniors, Memorial Cups, Calder Cups and Stanley Cups. Like many Canadian kids, his earliest memories include hockey. Kevin has spent countless hours in arenas throughout the country watching all levels of the game.