The Toronto Maple Leafs will be taking on the Calgary Flames tonight in a rematch of Sunday’s 3-2 victory, but they’ll have to do it with as many as four different lineup pieces in the lineup. This afternoon, head coach Sheldon Keefe confirmed that backup goaltender Jack Campbell suffered a noteworthy injury, and mentioned three lineup changes that we’ll see amongst the forwards and defence.
The most important news of the day, without doubt, is the loss Jack Campbell. The injury appears to be a leg injury, which tracks with the suspicion that it likely has more to do with a shot taken to an unpadded part of the leg late in the third period than it does with the Matthew Tkachuk knee-drop thing that has people (rightfully) upset, but happened while Campbell was already in visible discomfort.
Campbell, to date, has played eight games for the Maple Leafs – six last year, and two this year, posting a very respectable 0.917 save percentage over that time while providing an infectiously polite and upbeat attitude on the bench, in the room, and in media scrums, quickly becoming a fan favourite as such. The timeline according to Keefe is measured in “weeks”, which knowing his history of injury updates going back to the Marlies, is likely closer to a month and beyond than it is to 14 days, though time will obviously tell.
In the meantime, a familiar face returns to the backup role, one that fans are not nearly as comfortable with in Michael Hutchinson. “Hutch” had a similarly strong start to his tenure with Toronto in 2018/19, but drew much criticism for his performance in 2019/20, where he posted a 0.886 save percentage which ultimately led to the need to acquire Campbell in the first place. His performances in Colorado after being moved were admittedly much better, so all hope is not lost. The timing is still comically unfortunate, though, as the Leafs had signed Aaron Dell in the fall for just this reason, only to lose him to waivers as part of a cap-balancing measure just eight days ago, before he could play a single game.
Should Hutchinson not fit the bill, Joseph Woll is the current third-ranking goalie in the system. That’s especially worrisome, given that, as much as most would like to see him find success, he is coming off of a bottom-rung AHL season, where he posted an 11-16-3 record and 0.880 save percentage in 32 games. Needless to say, the Leafs are going to need Frederik Andersen to stay healthy and composed for the next little while, or they’re going to be rolling some very nerve-laden dice.
Keefe also mentioned a trio of line changes ahead of tonight’s matchup, which are as follows:
- Mikko Lehtonen will draw into the lineup for Travis Dermott
- Travis Boyd will draw into the lineup for Jason Spezza
- Joey Anderson will draw into the lineup for Alexander Barabanov
All three of these are relatively parallel moves, that give some players an opportunity to show their eagerness and preparedness should they be necessary down the road. Both Boyd and Anderson are “worker-bee” type players who can provide a more board-heavy, puck-retrieval type element on the bottom end of the lineup, particularly with Zach Hyman spending more time in the top six again. Barabanov coming out makes sense given Toronto’s plans to try to alternate him and Lehtonen, and getting Spezza some rest days was something that became an obvious part of the plan once he was placed on waivers to become taxi-squad eligible last week.
The decision to swap Dermott out for Lehtonen will probably be the most controversial of these three moves, especially as many look to Zach Bogosian as an option that they would prefer to see slot out of the lineup. I emphasize with that feeling, though with a more physical battle expected due to the late-game drama on Sunday, I can see the value Toronto might see in the larger, meaner option tonight. It should be noted that as well that while Bogosian is pointless through seven games with underwhelming, relatively negative shot metrics, Dermott is also pointless through seven games with underwhelming, relatively negative shot metrics, and also has higher expectations placed on him. A scratch every so often for him isn’t the end of the world, so long as picking 23 over 22 doesn’t become a consistent pattern. In this case, it’s Dermott’s first healthy scratch since 2018/19, from a coach who historically has placed a lot of trust in him, so I wouldn’t panic too much yet.
The puck drops on tonight’s game at 9:00 PM Eastern Time.