Heading into the 2021-22 season, there is no team with more pressure on themselves than the Toronto Maple Leafs. Of course, they have themselves to blame for that pressure, given the lack of playoff success with their current core in recent seasons. The hope was that in an easier North Division last season, they would finally be able to at the very least win a playoff series, but that failed to happen as they were eliminated in the first round by the Montreal Canadiens.
Speaking on the [email protected] podcast on Wednesday, goaltender Jack Campbell says his team has plenty of motivation heading into this season.
“There’s no doubt in the desire to win and the things we’re willing to do and just how much we care as a group,” Campbell said. “We’re with the fans. We want it so bad. There’s no excuses. We’re using it to fuel us, and I think you’ll see that, and you’ll see it this season with the way we come out this year.”
The Maple Leafs were fantastic during the 2020-21 regular season, posting a 35-14-7 record which led the North Division. Unfortunately, the regular season hasn’t been a part of their issues in recent years. Instead, it is the postseason, and until they are able to win when it matters, this current pressure won’t be going anywhere.
Campbell, 29, had a big-time coming out party during the 2020-21 season, posting a 2.15 goals-against average along with a .921 save percentage and an extremely impressive 17-2-3 record in 22 games. After being taken 11th overall back in 2010, it took him a much longer time to develop than anyone expected, but he really established himself last season. He will likely split starts throughout the 2021-22 campaign with newcomer Petr Mrazek.
Though the Leafs’ struggles have come in the playoffs in recent years, they won’t be able to just look past the regular season this year. Now that they are back in the Atlantic, it will not be easy to qualify for a playoff berth given the fact they will be competing against teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers, and the Montreal Canadiens in what is shaping up to be a very tough division. It will be quite interesting to sit back and see how they perform this season after heavy criticism throughout the summer.
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