Maple Leafs Week in Review (Feb 3-Feb 9)
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Monday, February 10, 2020
Toronto's Week Was Filled With Backup Goalie Controversies and Crushing Loses
The week of February 3rd-February 9th for the Maple started with optimism. After winning its first three games out of the NHL All-Star break, Toronto was on track to solidify a spot in the Atlantic Division playoff picture. But it’s amazing how quickly things can change in hockey, especially in hockey’s biggest market.
Entering Monday's home game against the Florida Panthers, the Maple were riding high coming off an overtime victory over its bitter rivals in Ottawa. The game against the Panthers flowed with that same excitement for the first two periods. Toronto outplayed Florida in every aspect of the game, especially in the second period. The second period however, is where goaltender Frederik Anderson suffered a neck injury forcing him to leave the game.
This is where we are re-introduced to Michael Hutchinson. Despite winning his previous two starts, including a shutout against the Islanders on January 4th, the confidence amongst the fan base in Hutchinson, and quite frankly all Maple Leaf backup goaltenders since the departure of Curtis in 2018, has been low.
After Auston Matthews gave Toronto a 3-1 lead in early in third period against the Panthers, a Maple meltdown ensued. Hutchinson allowed three goals on 13 shots, including a weak game-winner to Mike Hoffman.
With both out, and the returning to the loss column in disastrous fashion, panic amongst Maple fans returned unlike anything we’ve seen all year, at least since the week that led up to the firing of Mike Babcock.
Toronto’s next stop was in New York to visit the Rangers. The played relatively well, however a lack of focus off two faceoff loses in the first period costed Toronto two goals in six seconds. What proceeded was Hutchinson allowing a weak goal to Pavel in the second period, which was eventually proven to be the game-winner. The losing streak would now be pushed to two after the 5-3 loss to New York.
Hutchinson’s subpar play in the third period against Florida and his inability to give the Maple a chance in New York was the discussion in the city throughout the week. General Manager Kyle Dubas quickly faced pressure to make a move-and he did. On Wednesday night after the loss to the Rangers, the Maple acquired goaltender Jack Campbell and forward Kyle Clifford from Los Angeles for Trevor Moore and two round picks.
The story leading up to Friday’s game at home against Anaheim surrounded the new additions. Campbell would get the start in net, where he would win his first game as a Maple Leaf, as Toronto defeated Anaheim in overtime. Campbell would start again the next night in Montreal, a rare sight to be seen for fans.
The game Saturday night against Montreal was scoreless entering the third, until John Tavares beat Carey Price for his 23rd of the year giving the a 1-0 lead. The Tavares goal would prove to be the only shot on goal for Toronto all period, a definite recipe for disaster. And with Marco Scandella’s tying goal for the Canadiens late in the third, the game would need overtime where the Maple would lose after veteran Montreal forward Ilya ended the game.
lose 2-1 in overtime and suffer another terrible defeat, the third one of the .
As we wrap the week for the Maple , the message is consistent-it is officially crunch time. The are only two points clear of Florida for the final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division, and the Panthers have played two less games than the Maple . For the upcoming week in Leaf land, it will be on hands on deck, and yet again, more and more obsession over the play of backup goaltenders. Stay tuned.