Campbell goes for Leafs franchise record; still no update on Andersen
TORONTO — Jack Campbell is on the cusp of making history.
The Maple Leafs’ netminder is a perfect 9-0-0 this season, and a 10th straight victory on Wednesday versus Montreal would pass John Ross Roach (1925), Jacques Plante (1970-71) and Felix Potvin (1993-94) for the longest winning streak in franchise history.
“I think our guys know [about the record] and they're obviously pulling for Soup every night – whether something such as that is on the line or not,” said coach Sheldon Keefe after Toronto’s morning skate on Wednesday. “The guys have really rallied when Soup is in there. There's a lot of positive energy surrounding him all the time – whether he's playing or not. I think that's part of it and we're going to have to really dig in here tonight.”
Campbell has been in control of the Leafs’ crease since Frederik Andersen re-aggravated a lower-body injury in mid-March. Campbell has been dealing with his own lingering leg injury that dates back to his first start of the season in Calgary on Jan. 24, and it often forces him to miss practice time.
But that only makes his unfolding season more impressive. Campbell is not just undefeated to date, his .944 save percentage and 1.53 goals-against average are both tops in the NHL among goalies with at least six starts. Over his nine starts, Campbell has only allowed three goals twice, and has posted two shutouts.
Whatever injury limitations Campbell may be encountering, his attitude always remains the same. And that’s what’s propelling the 29-year-old netminder through the hottest run of his career.
“He works every single day to the maximum that he can on the ice, off the ice,” said Keefe. “He's a guy that the players love to be around no matter the circumstance – when he's injured, when he’s healthy. When you encounter him around the room, he makes it a better place with that energy that he has, and he's done that since he arrived.”
Toronto has been leaning on Campbell to be a steadying force between the pipes given the continued uncertainty around Andersen.
The Leafs didn’t bring Andersen on the four-game road trip they just returned from, leaving him behind in Toronto to undergo further tests. Keefe said on Wednesday that he had “no update” on Andersen’s condition, but that he had recently been through another follow-up appointment.
Andersen hasn’t appeared on the ice in any capacity since March 19. When asked directly if there was concern Andersen could be done for the season, Keefe said no.
Until Andersen’s status is determined, the Leafs will continue putting their faith in Campbell to deliver – whether he earns that franchise record or not.
“It would be a huge credit to him and I'm sure it would feel good,” said defenceman Justin Holl. “He’s been great so far. But at the same time, our concern is basically winning every game and if we're able to do that, then the rest will take care of itself.”