The NHL season has been underway for less than a week, but the Toronto Maple Leafs already feel the pressure.
Now, that may sound a tad intense. After all, they’ve only played three games so far and sit in first place; however, multiple problems from recent seasons have reared their ugly heads once more.
With that being said, you simply cannot remove all of the blame from a goaltender who has consistently struggled to stop pucks. Sorry, Freddy.
When the Danish netminder is at the top of his game, there are no doubts about his abilities. He’s been the backbone of this team since arriving in 2016, and can usually be counted upon for great goaltending.
On the other hand, Andersen has traditionally been a slow starter and is known to let in a soft goal from time-to-time. His save percentage has also been abysmal at even strength since January 1st, 2020 (as evidenced in the tweet below).
To top it all off, other teams have meticulously scouted Freddy and are well-aware of his greatest weakness – the five-hole.
Even Strength Sv% since Jan.1 2020
(15+ Games played) pic.twitter.com/zxcbXdJKrf
— Active Stick (@TheOakLeafs) January 16, 2021
So, is all hope lost? Will Campbell take the reins at some point despite the fact that it’s Andersen’s contract year?
Highly doubtful. The season is shorter than usual, and Freddy won’t automatically get starts if he keeps allowing 4+ goals – regardless of how and why they’re going in. With that being said, it’s probably far too early to hit the panic button yet – but it’s something to watch.
Campbell looked very sharp in his season debut, and he’s truly the first of Freddy’s backups with the potential to handle a high number of starts with aplomb.
During his last season on the Los Angeles Kings, who were far from a playoff team at the time, Campbell posted a microscopic 2.30 GAA and a .928 SV% over 31 starts.
Those numbers are obviously very impressive, and a large reason why Leafs’ GM Kyle Dubas bothered to acquire Jack in the first place.
He did face a low number of shots against the Ottawa Senators in his victory, and that may not seem like much to write home about – but he was still great when tested by a team of NHL players. Shouldn’t that be what matters?
Frederik Andersen starts tonight. Leafs won’t restrict Jack Campbell to only back-to-backs. They’ll take it day by day.
— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) January 18, 2021
Despite all of the factors surrounding this situation, one goal remains – the Leafs are in win-now mode. Come playoff time, the team will go with the starter who has performed more consistently throughout the season.
As previously mentioned, the possibility of Campbell usurping Freddy for the starting goaltending throne is unlikely – yet far from impossible.
The number of high-quality shots and scoring chances against should hypothetically decrease as well. Offseason acquisitions such as T.J. Brodie and Zach Bogosian are still getting their feet wet within HC Sheldon Keefe’s system.
Both have shown signs of steady improvement and should play vital roles in locking things down defensively.
Michael Hutchinson is now the third goaltender on the depth chart, and the collective groan from Leafs Nation can be heard throughout the GTA as the fanbase dies and comes back to life for the fourth time this week.
Poor Hutch. It appears some things will never change. Isn’t having hockey back fun?
with aaron dell off to new jersey, #leafs could do worse than michael hutchinson as their third-string goalie is all i’m saying
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) January 18, 2021