It’s highly unusual for the backup goaltender to take the podium on a game day.
It’s also highly unusual for a winning goaltender to get yanked mid-game due to poor performance while his team is leading.
But here we are.
Or, rather, here is Jack Campbell.
Fittingly the Toronto Maple Leafs No. 1 netminder tried to take his mind off hockey Sunday in Washington, D.C., by checking out the No. 1 film at the box office, Uncharted (his review: “Solid”).
Campbell himselfis in uncharted territory as he rides the roller coaster that is a full 82 games in the white-hot Toronto market — without the seatbelt that is contract security.
And his play is sliding off the rails.
“It’s a mental block kinda thing going on right now that he’s got to work his way through, but he’ll get there,” said coach Sheldon Keefe, ahead of Monday’s game against the Washington Capitals.
“We think there’s a good goalie there that will find a level of consistency, and that’s what we continue to work through here now.”
The 30-year-old’s freefall is precipitous, from deserved All-Star Game invitee and backbone of his club’s pre-Christmas success to a .887 save percentage and a loosened grip on the starter’s gig since Jan. 1.
“It’s simple. I’m the same goalie I was to start year as far as strategy and talent, things like that,” Campbell said. “Just relax and having some fun and not beat myself up too much. So, I’m still working. You know, it’s a process. But I have great people in my life, great teammates, and I’ll snap out of it.
“It’s just having fun and chilling out a little bit. That’s it.”
Sensing Campbell had become a liability Saturday in Detroit, as the Red Wings threw four pucks past the starter within the first 5:21 of the third period, Keefe felt he had no choice but to put in Petr Mrazek late to secure the win.
Just as he’d done last month against New Jersey, Mrazek secured the two points in relief. He’ll hold the net Monday.
Keefe made a point to speak with Mrazek post-game, acknowledging he put him in a difficult spot by calling on him so late and cold. Keefe says he leaves goalie coach Steve Briere to talk over the rough outing with Campbell.
Campbell likens the veteran Mrazek’s “laid-back demeanour” to that of former Leaf Frederik Andersen. Both are quick to share information. Both are supportive.
Neither is as emotional as Campbell, whose recent struggles appear to be a direct cause of the pressure he’s exerting on himself.
“I mean, it’s not really my game,” Campbell said. “I’m the same goalie. It’s just having fun and chilling a little bit.”
Campbell’s work in the first half of his contract season was so stellar, it was unsustainable. (Fun fact: His 2021-22 save percentage and career save percentage are now and identical .917.) But his drop-off has to be a concern, particularly with the injury-prone Mrazek (8-4-0, .894) not exactly stealing the crease and running with it himself.
“Jack had earned all the attention and the accolades that were coming with his play. You have to be prepared for it to come the other way. Maybe you don’t want to have such extremes,” Keefe said.
“Knowing this was going to be Petr’s start today, there’s more time for Jack to clear his head and get back to work.”
Goaltending ranked below a top-four defenceman and a top-six winger on the Maple Leafs’ wish list ahead of the March 21 trade deadline, but if the saves don’t show up, one must wonder if priorities shift.
Captain John Tavares cast a vote of confidence for Toronto’s shaky tandem in the wake of Saturday’s 10-7 gong show.
“Ninety-nine per cent of the games, those two guys give us a great chance to win,” Tavares said.
“So, just flush it. Get back to work, as they both do really well. Trust who they are.”
One-Timers: Toronto is dealing with a flu bug, so its lineup will not be set until after warmups. “It seems like we’ve gotten through the worst of it but hoping it stays that way,” Keefe said…. Ilya Samsonov will start in goal for the Capitals. Defenceman Justin Schultz (upper body) is a game-time decision, while Dmitry Orlov (personal reasons) is expected to play…. Tavares is expected to play but admits he is still recovering with illness…. Interestingly, Auston Matthews — named NHL’s First Star of the Week — took reps in the bumper position of Toronto’s power-play Monday morning. Despite lighting the lamp 10 times in Detroit Saturday, the Leafs were held without a power-play goal.
Canadiens @ Oilers: Start time, Tale of the Tape, and how to watch – Habs Eyes on the Prize
How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In Canada: CBC, Sportsnet 360 (English), TVAS (French)
The Montreal Canadiens will look to add another win on their Western-Canada-plus-Seattle road trip two nights removed from an exciting 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Thursday. The game might have been a one-goal contest, but it would’ve been a lot different if goaltender Jake Allen hadn’t stood on his head, making a whopping 45 saves in the victory, his first since November 19.
Tale of the Tape
|45.8% (24th)||Scoring-chances-for %||50,5% (17th)|
|2,78 (26th)||Goals per game||3,42 (9th)|
|3,39 (22nd)||Goals against per game||3,63 (7th)|
|15,7% (29th)||PP%||27,6% (5th)|
|82,3% (6th)||PK%||71,6% (27th)|
|1-1-0||H2H Record (’21-22)||1-1-0|
On Thursday, it was Montreal’s first overall pick from this summer’s draft, Juraj Slafkovský, who opened the scoring on the first shot of the game at 13 seconds, when Calgary all-star goaltender Jacob Markstrom decided to leave his crease to try to play the puck, which inevitably resulted in a poor miscue by the former Vezina nominee.
Habs standout Cole Caufield, who has been mesmerizing fans and brass alike, scored the eventual game-winner, a power-play marker six-and-a-half minutes into the third period for his team-leading 13th goal of the season. The man advantage has been a bit of a soft spot all season, finding itself 29th in the league, and also especially after going zero-for-six earlier in the week against San Jose, it was nice to see it clicking for once.
Thursday’s game was also a homecoming of sorts for Sean Monahan, a former 2013 first-round pick of the Calgary Flames. His return was met with a lot of chants and cheers, as opposed to Kirby Dach’s return to Chicago a week prior. Monahan, who currently sits fourth in team scoring with five goals and 16 points, assisted on both Montreal goals.
Tonight’s opponent, the Edmonton Oilers, saw their three-game winning streak come to an abrupt halt in their last game Thursday night, a 5-3 loss to Kirill ‘The Thrill’ Kaprizov and the Minnesota Wild squad. The Oilers’ one-two punch of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl each had a goal and a helper in the contest, but it didn’t help their cause.
McDavid and Draisaitl have been two of the best players in the game in recent years, and yet again find themselves on pace for record-setting seasons, sitting number one and three in the NHL scoring race, respectively. McDavid’s 19 goals and 43 points through his first 24 games make his numbers last season (44 goals and 79 assists) look like a poor performance for the perennial all-star.
His German counterpart currently has 16 goals and 38 points, making his career-best totals of 55 goals and 110 points also seem well within reach, which makes these two some of the best teammates at the top of the leaderboard since the late-90s when the Pittsburgh Penguins had Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr taking the league down in a fury.
Both Edmonton goaltenders, Jack Campbell and Stuart Skinner, have shared an equal workload with Mike Smith on the Long-Term Injured Reserve list. Campbell, who signed an off-season deal with the Oilers at five years and-$25 million, has put up seven wins, but a league-worst 4.12 goals-against-average.
Last season saw these two squads split the season series, with each road team getting a victory. Edmonton took the first contest, a 7-2 dismantling at the Bell Centre on January 29, and then Montreal exacted revenge on March 5, with a 5-2 victory at Rogers Place.
One bright spot for Habs last year was that of all nine of Edmonton’s goal-scorers versus Montreal, none wore the number 97. McDavid registered zero points across both contests. Just a little optimism that it can repeat itself Saturday in Alberta.
NHL Buzz: Manson out week to week for Avalanche – NHL.com
Welcome to the NHL Buzz. The 2022-23 regular season is underway, and NHL.com has you covered with all the latest news.
Josh Manson is out week to week for the Avalanche because of a lower-body injury.
The defenseman, who sustained the injury in a 6-4 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday, has six points (two goals, four assists) in 21 games this season.
Andreas Englund was recalled from Colorado of the American Hockey League. He has one assist in four games with the Avalanche this season.
“Englund has played good when he’s been up with us,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “I really like what he did when he was up. … Just another big (6-foot-3, 189 pounds), heavy, strong guy that’s been an efficient puck mover for us on the back end.”
Teuvo Teravainen could return for the Hurricanes on Saturday one day after the forward was activated off injured reserve.
Teravainen, who has missed the past 10 games with an upper-body injury, has seven assists in 14 games this season.
Carolina plays at the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday (10:30 p.m. ET; BSW, BSSO, ESPN+, SN NOW).
Cam Atkinson said he’s getting closer to making his season debut, but the forward remains day to day because of an upper-body injury.
Atkinson added he’s been fully cleared for contact and is not restricted in any way.
“It’s obviously good to be back with everyone and take a little bit of licks and see how I do,” Atkinson said. “Just day to day for me right now.
“It’s been pretty good. A little bit of an adjustment but just working out the kinks. I’m getting close, but not enough to where I think I can help this team right now. But I’m closer than not.”
Atkinson was second on the Flyers in goals (23) and points (50) last season. Entering Saturday, Philadelphia was last in the NHL in goals per game (2.38).
Atkinson said the nature of his injury has allowed him to skate and stay in shape that way but that it might take a game or two for him to get his timing with the puck back to normal.
“If I was playing and if we had a day off, even one day off, even if I played 30 games and I took a day off, I still feel like that next practice my timing is just a little bit off,” he said. “Maybe it’s more mental than not. So obviously not playing any games it’s going to take a game or two to get adjusted, but we’re on a pretty good schedule for me right now. I’ve revved it up a lot and I’m feeling good. I feel like my timing is pretty solid, but you really won’t know until you play a game.” — Adam Kimelman
World Cup Daily: Timeless Messi is on a mission for Argentina – Sportsnet.ca
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