Maple Leafs starter Andersen now in Campbell’s shadow

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Maple Leafs starter Andersen now in Campbell's shadow


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To say that Freddy Andersen gave up some waste targets is true; expecting it to be outside 40 Bay St. with the blue recycling bin this week is not.

Everyone salutes Happy Jack Campbell for his solid performance on Saturday, which the Maple Leafs needed to reverse a mid-season skid. Limited to two games in two months due to his slow-healing leg injury, Campbell came out of rehab as the hero with a 31-save shutout win over the Calgary Flames.

That gives Campbell and his wellness history a 4-0-0 record, with two bagels and a .965 save percentage. Sportsnet Stats ranks his first 10 goals against average of 1.98 matches as the best since Terry Sawchuk’s 2.00 when he arrived in the mid-1960s.

Andersen, since acquiring Campbell in a trade with Los Angeles 13 months ago, is 2.87 with two shutouts, undermined by a 0.876 save percentage in his last seven games.

But before you dream of taking Campbell in your playoff pool, don’t rule Andersen out of the equation in those last 24 games. First, make sure Campbell is in practice on Monday. After his last shutout on February 24, it was revealed that he had made his injury worse.

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If he’s ready to go, he will certainly start on Thursday against last-place Ottawa and well beyond. But Andersen, whether or not his poor game is related to his own lower body problem, won’t go away.

There is no experienced third option in the chain, as Michael Hutchinson’s mercurial path shows. And with a shrinking business deadline due to a two-week COVID-19 quarantine for all newcomers, CEO Sheldon Keefe’s efforts with a tight salary cap are already focused on one of the top six. attackers and on defense.

It’s a good time to remember that Andersen led the NHL in victories not too long ago, with a role in the Leafs leading the field in the first half. He’s still tied with 13 wins atop the North Division with Connor Hellebuyck of the Jets. And in that all-Canadian division, Andersen added to the wins he started to compile against the six as the Anaheim Duck, a record 66-18-16 despite his recent slip.

Already surpassing Curtis Joseph in the franchise this season, there are 12 wins that cannot be eclipsed Felix Potvin 160 for third place. So when Andersen reasoned after Friday’s last loss that he didn’t just lose his abilities overnight and yearn to factor in the team’s success, you wanted to believe him.

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His final shot of redemption with an increasingly impatient Leafs nation was to put them through a playoff round. With this year also being a contract year, Andersen needed a solid spring finish and a favorable May game with top seed Toronto. Now it could be Campbell driving the bus as many fans and media seem eager to throw Freddy under.

Part of getting Campbell was aimed at pushing Andersen like no other replacement has since Curtis McElhinney. Despite not being on the bench on Saturday night, Andersen saw Campbell shine and must have heard rave reviews from his teammates.

This could be the catalyst the dethroned Dane needs to ‘come together’ as Dubas predicted. But now it’s Andersen who has to sit down and wait for his chance.

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