In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs’ Quick Hits, I’ll take a look at what’s happening to a number of Maple Leafs’ players. The team was supposed to play this evening in Calgary; however, as hockey fans know, the Flames are in the midst of a COVID-19 crisis and a number of the team members are under the protocol. The game was postponed.
The Maple Leafs practiced today at the University of British Columbia as they prepared to play the surging Vancouver Canucks on Saturday. The Canucks have won six games in a row now under new head coach Bruce Boudreau. They will be coming off a victory in San Jose where they beat the Sharks by a score of 5-2 last night.
Quick Hit One: Jack Campbell Will Start on Saturday
No surprise really that Maple Leafs’ starting goalie Jack Campbell will get the start in Vancouver. His team plays a suddenly-hot Canucks’ team that’s looking to move to the .500 mark.
Campbell will start the first game of the Maple Leafs’ back-to-back. The second game will happen on Sunday evening in Seattle when the team plays the expansion Kraken for the first time this season. No doubt Petr Mrazek will get the call in that game.
Campbell has had a solid season all around, and he’s been especially strong on the road. Away from home, he’s put together a record of 5-2-1, a goals-against-average of 2.11, and a save percentage of .939 in nine games.
Quick Hit Two: Ondrej Kase’s Thriving in His Time on the Top Six
The Maple Leafs have surprisingly great depth this season. One of the players who’s been a huge surprise – as much that he’s been able to play as for how well he’s played – is Ondrej Kase. Given Kase’s concussion history, Maple Leafs’ fans are quite aware that he might be one wrong hit away from ending his season. However, I suppose that’s true of all NHL players.
In the 5-1 win over the Oilers in Edmonton, Kase was inserted into the injured Mitch Marner’s wing on the team’s top line. He contributed with two assists on the night. One of those assists was on the power play, where Kase has only recently begun to get some minutes.
So with Kase riding shotgun with Matthews, he’s been making the smart move in getting the puck to the big American from Arizona. Now, both Matthews (who’s at 10 games) and Kase are on scoring streaks. In fact, Kase assisted on both Matthews’ goals during the game.
In addition, as a sign of the trust his head coach has in him, Sheldon Keefe gave the 26-year-old Czech winger more ice time than any other forward (20:46 minutes). Kase’s reveling in the opportunity. He now has extended his own scoring streak to five games (with three goals and four assists).
Quick Hit Three: Wayne Simmonds Has Show Lots of Attitude – All Positive
Another veteran NHL player might be put out when given the deployment that coach Keefe has given Simmonds. He’s been up, down, and all around. He was even healthy scratched for a game. It’s all made Simmonds even more determined to contribute to the team – in any way he’s asked.
Simmonds scored a goal from a dirty spot on the ice against the Oilers on Tuesday night. His goal was the eventual game-winning goal. Although Simmonds is currently playing a regular fourth-line spot, he’s contributing in many other ways as well.
Already this season, Simmonds passed last season’s total of nine points. He has scored four goals and six assists (for 10 points in 29 games).
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