For the first 11 games of the season, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ backup goalie Jack Campbell couldn’t have played better. In fact, he was perfect. The result was that Campbell set an NHL record for most wins starting a season. Then, well, the wheels fell off.
From a Great Start to a Goaltending “Issue”
After Campbell’s great start posting a record of 11-0-0, his perfect record and his play ended. The result was an 0-2-1 record between April 12-18. In response, the Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe shared with the media that he was concerned about the goaltending.
After all the drama and angst, Campbell’s stretch of two games against the Maple Leafs’ biggest rival for first play in the North Division of the NHL – the Winnipeg Jets – finally allowed Maple Leafs’ fans to let out a collective sigh of relief.
Two Straight Victories Helped Ease the Concern
On Thursday, Campbell stopped 34 shots and the team won by a score of 5-3. He had started the game on a three-game losing streak and his team had lost five games in a row – including two surprising games to the crippled-from-COVID Canucks (in Vancouver). But Campbell stood tall when he needed to and when the game was close at 4-3. He got the monkey off his back and improved his record to 12-2-1.
Still, Maple Leafs fans had blinked and started to wonder if Campbell was – in fact – the goalie the team could count on during the playoffs. Was it just a couple of bad games between good games; or, was it a good game between more bad games coming?
Then on Saturday, Campbell had an even better game. Seemingly back to his old self (at least for this season) when he gave up only a single goal on 26 shots in the 4-1 road win over the Jets. The result was back-to-back wins and a current record of 13-2-1 with a goals-against average of 2.21 and a save percentage of .922.
For Now, the Good Ship Maple Leafs Is Sailing the High Seas Again
These two wins pushed the Maple Leafs to an eight-point lead for first place in the North Division standings. Given that there are only eight games left, it’s getting to the point where the team would have to lose its collective edge to not finish first. Still, after a five-game losing streak where – ironically where they played well enough to win more than half those games – fans can only shake their heads and acknowledge that NHL hockey is a funny business.
The one thing that pushes this team forward is that it has a much better team defense than it has in past few seasons. The team also has great depth and good leadership both on and off the ice. The bottom line is that the Maple Leafs are all but a lock for first place in their division.
The Team Also Has a Confident Jack Campbell
Certainly one of the key components of the Maple Leafs’ success this season has been surprising starter Jack Campbell. He’s now performed well in two games in a row – after three losses sandwiched between 11-straight wins.
It looks as if Campbell has his mojo back. If that’s the case, it spells relief for Maple Leafs fans. Wouldn’t it be nice to take an extended playoff run this season? A lot of Maple Leafs’ fans share that vision. There’s no doubt a confident Campbell would share that vision as well.
No matter what happens after this season, Campbell has shown that he deserves a chance to be a full-time NHL starting goalie.
/ 7 hours ago
After a Game 1 loss in which they allowed five goals, Joel Quenneville has...
/ 1 day ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs are getting a few players into their lineup, while also...
/ 4 days ago
Reports are Adam Larsson is close on a three or four-year extension with the...
/ 5 days ago
TSN's Darren Dreger notes that Edmonton Oilers defenseman Tyson Barrie is likely to test...
/ 6 days ago
Kevyn Adams didn’t seem angry, but he did seem a bit annoyed that there...
/ 6 days ago
After John Davidson and Jeff Gorton were fired by New York Rangers owner David...
/ 1 week ago
The Edmonton Oilers are making ground on a four-year extension with defenseman Adam Larsson.
/ 1 week ago
As per reports by multiple sources, John Tortorella has agreed to leave the Columbus...
/ 2 weeks ago
George Parros says he doesn't want the gig as head of NHL Department of...