We have come to the point of the season where the Toronto Maple Leafs can’t wait for Frederik Andersen to “get his confidence back” and it should be clear to Jack Campbell that he has the chance to win the starting job going forward.
Over the last seven games, the Leafs have only won once and coming off a break where the team had four-days off, they were left with a similar feeling. They held the majority of the scoring chances against their opponent and when they needed Andersen to make a save, he wasn’t able to.
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For years, we have heard about the Leafs needing to help out Andersen more by playing better defensively. Well against the Flames, Toronto allowed just 18 shots on goal, the fewest that have given up to this point of the season.
We continue to hear about the Leafs have to be a tougher team to play against and add some physicality to the lineup. They did that and we come back to find the team in a similar position.
Since Kyle Dubas has taken over as general manager, he has made major improvements on the blue line, put his stamp on the forward lines. However, he hasn’t changed or really looked at the starting goalie position and made it a priority to give Andersen a trustworthy backup in Campbell.
If Andersen’s play hasn’t raised any red flags then listening to him talk about his struggles should provide more insight into what he’s battling through.
"“I know I have the ability to be a great goalie in this league and help the team win a ton of hockey games,” Andersen told reporters. “So, I think it’s just a matter of finding that confidence again. And I know it’s right there. There’s just a few things that I need to keep working on and find again. I think I’ll be right there and having a great stretch again. The tough part is staying patient and just keep working at the daily things that’s gonna get me success out there.”"
For Andersen to say he is trying to find his confidence again, you wonder how a goalie on the top team in the North Division suddenly lost it? Seeing how goalies like Thatcher Demko, Connor Hellebuyck and Jacob Markstrom have stolen victories for their teams while Andersen struggles to make the save Toronto needs him to make is certainly frustrating.
Sheldon Keefe shouldn’t be making any promises to Andersen that he is the team’s unquestionable starter. His job is to put out the best winning lineup and it’s clear right now that Andersen isn’t giving his team the best chance to win.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Injuries remain Jack Campbell’s biggest hurdle
The pressure will be at an all-time high for Campbell and really the only reason we haven’t seen him earn more starts is because he has been sidelined with a lower-body injury.
Campbell will make his first start since Feb. 27 when he shutout the Edmonton Oilers. If he plays as well as he’s capable of, then this should be a great opportunity for the 29-year-old.
In three starts this season, Campbell has a 1.33 GAA and .951 save percentage. It’s definitely a short sample size but if you back to his time with the Los Angeles Kings, he’s been able to provide stability when called upon to fill in for Jonathan Quick.
The Leafs also need to do a better job penetrating the middle of the ice considering they had several chances to get back in the game. It wouldn’t look good on the team that in Campbell’s first game back, they don’t bring their best effort.
They did some good things against the Flames but the worst thing that can happen Saturday night is that they don’t follow it up and take hold of the game from the opening faceoff. Having confidence in the guy in goal should help.
What are your thoughts on Campbell’s start against the Flames? Is this his time to earn more starts down the road? Let us know in the comments below.