Toronto Maple Leafs: Michael Hutchinson redemption tour continues

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Michael Hutchinson (30) makes a save against Edmonton Oilers forward Kailer Yamamoto (56). (Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports)
Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Michael Hutchinson (30) makes a save against Edmonton Oilers forward Kailer Yamamoto (56). (Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports) /

There have been many impressive storylines from the Toronto Maple Leafs season so far but none have been more important than the dependability of the team’s backup goalies.

When Frederik Andersen was sidelined with a lower-body injury, you know many Leafs fans were nervous about Michael Hutchinson having to step in with Jack Campbell also hurt. Well, those nerves have definitely eased with the team winning three of its last four games while allowing a combined four goals in that stretch.

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Once again, another team in the North Division was looking to contend with Toronto for top spot and the Leafs have responded by shutting down the Edmonton Oilers with back-to-back shutout victories.

This Leafs team has certainly found that balance they have lacked over the years and now many across the country have started to give them the credit they’ve deserved. They aren’t beating up on the Ottawa Senators (who have two wins against Toronto) or Vancouver Canucks to show how good they are.

In all that with Mike Babcock as head coach, Toronto never really had faith in the backup goalie save for Campbell and maybe Curtis McElhinney. Going into this season, there was no thought of Hutchinson being an option for the Leafs but as we have seen throughout the years, one opportunity can provide a player with a chance to redeem himself.

It’s easy to forget that when Hutching was called upon in the playoffs last year for the Colorado Avalanche he went 2-1 with a .910 save percentage and a 2.75 GAA. Colorado would end up getting eliminated but for Hutchinson you have to think he was starting to work his way back from a rough first stint in Toronto.

Well, sometimes the second act can prove to be better than the first and if you are the Leafs, you are counting your blessings that they have no reason to rush Andersen back.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Hyman, Mikheyev and Engvall proving to be ideal third line

The line juggling Sheldon Keefe was forced to do with Auston Matthews out of the lineup has likely contributed to the end of his search for his ideal third line.

When you saw the lines rolled out, many could not imagine the trio of Zach Hyman, Ilya Mikheyev and Pierre Engvall being as effective as they have been. Both Mikheyev and Engvall have dealt with their fair share of struggles to be productive but insert Hyman and its a night and day what this line can do.

They have the size and skating that make them a challenge to defend and have proven capable of being a matchup line. Whether or not they can sustain this remains to be seen but for now, Engvall remains a player that could revert back to the early-season form that saw him as a taxi squad player.

For now, the Leafs will appreciate the fact that Matthews’ absence is showing that maybe there is more depth on this team than what they’re being given credit for. There were rumours suggesting that the team was looking to add a top-six forward and while that could still happen, it’s not as pressing of a need currently.

Again, playing another team could reveal some issues that the Leafs will need to address but in the last two games against the Oilers, there isn’t much that can be picked apart about Toronto’s play.

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Do you think Hutchinson has redeemed himself after the struggles he went through last season? What has impressed you about the play of the third line? Let us know in the comments below.