Toronto Maple Leafs: How many games should Frederik Andersen play?

BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 5: Frederik Andersen
BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 5: Frederik Andersen /

The Toronto Maple Leafs have seven more games to play in the regular season. With Frederik Andersen just back from injury and Curtis McElhinney playing the way he is, how many games should Andersen play?

Here is the Toronto Maple Leafs‘ schedule for the remainder of the season:

Mar. 26: vs. Buffalo Sabres

Mar. 28: vs. Florida Panthers

Mar. 30: @ New York Islanders

Mar. 31: vs. Winnipeg Jets

Apr. 2: vs. Buffalo Sabres

Apr. 5: @ New Jersey Devils

Apr. 7: vs. Montreal Canadiens

On this schedule, only three teams pose any real threat to the Leafs. (Panthers, Jets and Devils) The other teams are way out of contention and will be counting down the days until they can get onto the green golf course.

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There is one back-to-back game, so McElhinney is guaranteed at least one game. However, he could easily start the two games against the Sabres as well.

He has a .935 save percentage in 16 games and a 2.09 goals against average. He is playing the best hockey of his scattered career and the Leafs should capitalize on this opportunity to catch lightning in a bottle.

Andersen is one of the busiest netminders in the league and has missed games with an upper-body injury. His body is beaten down and he deserves a quick breather.

He will obviously want to play some games to remain game-ready, but he does not need to play the next six of seven games. Ideally, he will against the tougher teams in the Panthers, Jets, Devils, and Canadiens, while McElhinney handles the rest. Who knows, if the Panthers fall out of contention, McElhinney can take over that game as well.

We all know McElhinney plays like a video game, but he gets the job done. Here is one of his biggest saves of his career on Sidney Crosby last season:

Next: The Leafs' not-so-secret playoff weapon

What’s for certain is that the Maple Leafs will lean on Andersen heavily in the playoffs (he’s going to start every game). Now is his chance to rest up and prepare for the roller coaster of April and possibly *maybe* May? McElhinney is hot and this is a chance the Leafs should not pass up.