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Maple Leafs Use COVID-19 Break to Run with Jack Campbell in Goal

The Toronto Maple Leafs, like other teams, were forced to break because of COVID-19. How can the team take advantage of that break?

The COVID-19 forced break has played havoc with the Toronto Maple Leafs’ schedule; and, for sure, the team will pay for it later. One day soon they’ll be forced to play a lot of games in a compressed schedule. But, for now, the unexpected break will allow Maple Leafs to take advantage of playing their number-one goalie Jack Campbell a lot over the next while.

In a Sportsnet interview after practice on Monday, Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe was asked how the forced break has impacted his team’s plans. Obviously, the break has impacted the entire NHL. But, is there a way the Maple Leafs can take advantage?

How will the team strategize their future going forward? One answer is that the Maple Leafs are going to take as much advantage as they can to play Jack Campbell in goal. They’ll make hay while the sun shines so to speak.

Related: Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 6-0 Win Over the Senators

Maple Leafs’ Head Coach Sheldon Keefe Will Take Advantage of the Break

In the video below, Maple Leafs’ head coach Keefe discusses his goalie workload expectations for the time being. He noted that the recent extended break has allowed everyone to reset a bit. It will also allow his team to run with Campbell in the net until the schedule gets crazier.

Then they’ll have to rely on both Campbell and Petr Mrazek. Interestingly, that was the plan before the season started – a goalie 1A and a goalie 1B.

Keefe Has Been Aware of Campbell’s Busy Workload, But for Now

Keefe admitted that the team had “been very conscious with Jack’s (Campbell) workload that he had had through the season.” He also admitted that the team was “doing our best to monitor that and manage his practice time.”

While they will continue to employ that strategy, Keefe also noted that

“the break has been significant for Jack. It’s quite rare or unheard of for goalie to get an opportunity to rest and recover” during the season. Keefe also noted that “it wasn’t all vacation for him because he was dealing with COVID-19 then he was trying to find his way back.”

Jack Campbell Toronto Maple Leafs goalie
Jack Campbell goes to make a save for the Maple Leafs

However, the break was a unique situation and it certainly has reduced Campbell’s workload over the last few weeks. As well, over the near future even now coming out of this break Keefe noted that “our schedule is pretty spaced out, you know so Jack’s going to go against the Oilers on Wednesday, and we’ll take it from there.”

Eventually, Both Campbell and Mrazek Will Be Needed

While that situation (playing Campbell so much) isn’t ideal for Mrazek as the second goalie, Keefe did say that “Petr himself has dealt with injuries so this little break is an opportunity for him to get back up and running in a lot of ways.” Mrazek gets to rest and rehab more.

In some ways, Keefe noted that the break is like “resetting his season.” His hope is that both goalies can remain healthy because, as he reports, “Over time our schedule is going to get quite busy and we’re going to need both guys to be playing a lot.”

But, for right now, he noted that they would wait to get to that point. However, “for right now, we’ll run with it.”

Related: Maple Leafs’ Quick Hits: Matthews, Tavares & Kase

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Afp1961

    January 4, 2022 at 8:06 am

    I understand Keefes logic. Not totally in agreement but understand it.

    Campbell has never played extensive games in One season. While monitoring his games and his health will be critical they must also have an eye on the end of season when compressed games become more critical and likely Jack will be in more demand to perform at his best as the leafs try to push for the division crown.

    The silent message here is also the lack of confidence or capabilities that Mrazek brings. Master PR spin applied here. Leafs have that anchor around their neck and the best way to get rid of it is to play Mrazek strategically against the lower level teams and he has a decent enough showing that another team takes him this summer.

    I hope I am wrong, but as you say Jim, the compressed schedule will come back to bite the leafs sooner or later. Let’s hope all things fall into place by then.

    GLG

    • Old Prof

      January 4, 2022 at 9:05 pm

      It will be an interesting time – and Mrazek will be needed sooner or later – let’s hope he can stay healthy.

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