Connect with us

Toronto Maple Leafs

Maple Leafs Hope Petr Mrazek Can Help Rescue Slipping Jack Campbell

Toronto Maple Leafs hope backup goalie Petr Mrazek can play more. If so, will starter Jack Campbell return to his great season start?

When the Toronto Maple Leafs signed Petr Mrazek to a three-year, $11.4 million contract during the offseason, it wasn’t so that he could play five games during the first half of the season. The organization had a vision. Mrazek was expected to become a teammate and partner with starting goalie Jack Campbell. Together, they would push and encourage each other in a more-or-less equal sharing of the Maple Leafs’ net.

But that didn’t happen. Instead, during his first game with the team, Mrazek lasted only two periods before a groin injury pushed him to the sidelines. Even worse for Mrazek, that injury lingered and made the newcome unavailable for a long patch of the season. Campbell emerged as the primary starter over the first part of the season.

Related: Any Chance the Maple Leafs Trade for Zdeno Chara at Trade Deadline?

Campbell Started Great, But Has Fallen on Tougher Times

At first, Campbell thrived and prospered under the heavy workload. There was even talk about his being the primary candidate for the Vezina Trophy. He put up great numbers. That is, until recently.

Over the past month, although Campbell’s 5-1-0 January record might look good, in truth his play has slipped. Campbell’s November was fantastic, and he posted a .959 save percentage. In December, that save percentage dropped to .909; and, in January it dropped further to .889. 

Jack Campbell Petr Mrazek Maple Leafs
Jack Campbell and Petr Mrazek, Maple Leafs duo

On the season, Campbell’s save percentage remains a solid .926. However, he isn’t as fresh as he was and obviously needs rest. That’s why Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe has on his checklist to get Mrazek up, working, and finding his groove. 

If the New York Islanders’ game was any indication, Mrazek’s injury is no longer bothering him. He moved side to side very well on his way to a win. If anything, he had too much movement to his game and seemed a bit herky-jerky. 

Still, he kept the puck out of the net, so looks might be deceiving. His groin injury now seems to be in the rearview mirror as he looks forward down the road to the remainder of the season. 

There’s No Reason or Desire for Mrazek to Look Backward

Really, who wants to look backward. If Mrazek did, it would be a frustrating glance at a season in which he’s played only five games. But his most recent start was solid, and he saved 27 of 28 shots in beating the Islanders just a week ago today.

This matters because the club is going to need Mrazek (and Campbell both) during the second half of the season. In truth, the remainder of February, with all the rescheduled postponed games, isn’t as onerous as imagined and the team could return to playing Campbell the bulk of the games. 

Petr Mrazek Jack Campbell Maple Leafs

But I can’t imagine that scenario is in the team’s best interest. Better that they both play Mrazek and rest Campbell more. Hence, when Keefe announced that Mrazek would start tonight against his old Detriot Red Wings team and then again on Tuesday as the team plays the New Jersey Devils, that seems in line with a “let’s rest Campbell more” philosophy.

Sheldon Keefe Admits Playing Mrazek More Is His Goal

As coach Keefe noted, “We’re going to need Petr a lot coming up. Getting him this game (against the Wings) better prepares him for (the set with the Devils) versus having a longer stretch between games. We think trying to get him into a little bit of a rhythm is important.”

Keefe added, “Getting him into a bit of a rhythm is important. Jack goes right back in on Monday. That’s not too big of a gap for him that way, so we just like the way that it sets up for Petr.”

Obviously, as Keefe noted, getting Mrazek into a rhythm is a key. However, the other reason is that starting goalie Campbell needs to revive his game. Tonight will be the first time this season Mrazek will make three starts in a calendar month for the Maple Leafs.

The Maple Leafs Need Both Mrazek and Campbell Playing Well

The organization is counting on him to step up. During the All-Star break, Campbell will be taking part in his first All-Star game and all the festivities of the weekend. It’s an honor and he should enjoy playing on captain Auston Matthews’ team.

However, when he returns to the team after the All-Star weekend, he’ll be needed as the schedule tightens and February rolls along. But, as well, the team will need Mrazek to perform as expected before the season started.

If both can happen, things will probably look good for the Maple Leafs moving into the playoffs.

Related: Maple Leafs Open to Acquiring Players With Term in Deadline Trades



  1. Afp1961

    January 29, 2022 at 8:59 am

    It’s critical that Mrazek get into a rhythm for many reasons as you allude to.

    With the leafs style of play above average goaltending hides many sins including subpar bottom three defense. If the leafs do not get that quality of goaltending the gaps in talent become very evident.

    Let’s hope Mrazek can carry the torch.

  2. Old Prof

    January 29, 2022 at 9:22 am

    I too am rooting for both goalies – I think this pattern and plan can work!

  3. Pingback: Michael Bunting Is Making Maple Leafs’ Fans Forget Zach Hyman

  4. Pingback: Michael Bunting Is Making Maple Leafs’ Fans Forget Zach Hyman – Hockey 1 on 1

Leave a Reply

More News