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

Today will be an exciting day for 23-year-old Toronto Maple Leafs’ goalie Joseph Woll. It will be his NHL debut on the road against the Buffalo Sabres. Both teams are coming off games last night, and both teams won their respective games by a single goal. The Sabres beat the Edmonton Oilers and the Maple Leafs beat the Calgary Flames in overtime.

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One of the interesting points about the game is there was some confusion about whether the game-tying third-period goal was William Nylander’s or Ondrej Kase’s. Different sites called it differently; however, the official NHL site noted that it was tipped by Kase, so that’s the final call. That gives Kase three goals on the season. He’s been a nice addition to the team.

Ondrej Kase Toronto Maple Leafs
Ondrej Kase, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In this edition of Maple Leafs’ News & Rumors, I’ll comment about some of the events of the game and talk a bit about the game coming up this evening. 

Item One: Joseph Woll Starting in Net Tonight

Former Boston College standout goalie and the Maple Leafs’ third-round pick (62nd overall) of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft Joseph Woll will be making his NHL debut tonight. Woll will play the second half of the Maple Leafs’ back-to-back. During his time with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, Woll has been in three games and has a goals-against-average of 3.38 and a save percentage of .895.

Item Two: William Nylander Collected Two Assists, But Coach Keefe Notes He’s Played Better

It’s hard to expect much more from William Nylander, but Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe obviously does. Nylander can simply take over a game when he gathers in a puck and begins to race toward the opponent’s goalie. In fact, he registered two assists during the overtime win last night. 

However, in discussing Nylander’s contribution to the team, Keefe certainly didn’t dispute his player’s production level. However, Keefe noted that there were areas of Nylander’s game where he could be better. Chief among them was his consistency.

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Keefe noted, “​​I am not satisfied. I hope and I know Will is not. I know he has great expectations of himself. As long as I have been here as the coach, whenever I talk to Will, he has regarded himself as one of the top players in the league. I am going to continue to push him to get there.”

Last night, Nylander started the comeback by firing a puck on the net that Kase tipped with just over seven minutes left in period three. Nylander then was credited with the only assist on Matthew’s overtime-winning goal. These points extended Nylander’s streak to six games. He’s now scored seven goals and eight assists (for 15 points) in 15 games.

Item Three: Auston Matthews Can Still Score

Auston Matthews isn’t scoring up to his 2020-21 season’s pace and, given coach Keefe’s stress on winning low-scoring defensive games, another Rocket Richard Trophy is likely not in the cards for the Arizona-born Matthews. Still, that doesn’t mean he can’t come through in the clutch. Last night he did with the overtime winner.

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Matthews’ game-winning goal was scored at 2:32 of the extra period and gave the Maple Leafs yet another 2-1 overtime win. They had beaten the Tampa Bay Lightning by the same 2-1 score in overtime on November 4. 

Auston Matthews Toronto Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Matthews now has scored six goals and five assists (for 11 points) during his last nine games after missing the first three games of the season. He’s playing really solid defense and, by doing so, growing his complete game. 

Item Four: What Can You Say About Jack Campbell?

Jack Campbell should have, by now, dispelled any of the concerns that he’s not for real. Last night he stopped 30 of 31 shots in the overtime win. But perhaps what was most impressive was that he simply went all Cirque du Soleil during the overtime to stop what seemed like sure goals. He’s quick.

After Campbell gave up a beautiful goal by Flames’ defenseman Oliver Kylington early in the second period, he was perfect. He now has won six of his last seven and has an 8-3-1 record, a goals-against-average of 1.82, and a .939 save percentage.

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

Campbell seems to thrive on work. Of all NHL goalies, after the Montreal Canadiens’ Jake Allen (with 369 shots), Campbell has faced 361 shots. He’ll likely easily break his previous career-high of games. During the 2018-19 season with the Los Angeles Kings, he played 31 games.

What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

With Timothy Liljegren playing well, it will be interesting to see how coach Keefe deploys his defensemen. Last night Travis Dermott was a healthy scratch. Will he sit out again, or will Justin Holl take his place in the press box? 

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It’s tough to imagine that Keefe will sit Liljegren or separate him from his partner Rasmus Sandin. The two are playing so smoothly together that they hardly draw commentary anymore.