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The Maple Leafs practised at the Ford Performance Centre on Sunday before travelling to Columbus.

With Jack Campbell and Petr Mrazek allowing goals at an alarming rate, Sheldon Keefe found himself watching his goalies closer than usual at Sunday's practice. 

"I was really happy with the way that those guys competed," the coach said. "Jack, especially having played last night, I thought he was excellent today. He battled and competed and I thought Petr just the same."

After an All-Star calibre first half, Campbell seems to be stuck in a downward spiral. His save percentage is .873 in 14 games since Jan. 8. The wheels have really fallen off of late with 19 goals allowed over his last four starts.  

"I'm just working through it as hard as I can," Campbell said after Saturday's setback. "Sometimes trying too hard isn't always the best thing ... I'll get it back. I promise I will."

Campbell revealed he was dealing with nerves as he returned to the net for the first time since being pulled in Detroit the previous Saturday. He wanted to win badly in part because beloved teammate Wayne Simmonds was playing his milestone 1,000th game. But Campbell was beaten five times on 28 shots as Vancouver rallied in the third period to steal the two points. 

"As I reflect on Jack's game last night, there were a couple that were real tough shots from the slot that any goalie is going to have a tough time with," Keefe said. "There were a few others where he is so close. They are barely getting over the line ... I look at the day he had today and I see a guy who looks close to finding his game again."

Campbell is often really hard on himself and that has created self-doubt, which he says has snowballed on him this season. 

"He's a guy that is so passionate and cares so much that he takes a lot of it personally," noted forward Alex Kerfoot. "We have his back no matter what and it's just about us letting him know that."

The key for Toronto's embattled goalies, according to the coach, is to leave the past in the past. 

"When I focus on the here and now and just look at today, both Petr and Jack had really good days," Keefe stressed. "I am looking ahead. I want those guys to take it a day at a time, look ahead and not look behind them." 


Mrazek gets the start on Monday in Columbus. Despite allowing five goals on 31 shots in his last game against Buffalo on Wednesday, the 30-year-old insists he's in a good place. 

"To be honest, I like where my game's getting," said Mrazek, who missed most of the first half of the season due to a groin injury. "I just have to improve those small details, do them right, and I'm not worried about my game at all."

Specifically, Mrazek has worked with goalie coach Steve Briere on being calmer in the crease. Growing up in the Czech Republic, he didn't have a goalie coach and naturally developed an aggressive style.  

"We talk about settling in the crease more," Mrazek said, "be aggressive when I have to be and don't be as aggressive as I was years ago. He's been great with that. He's done great things for me and helped me go through the change. I'm trying to settle."

Mrazek, who has an .890 save percentage in 14 games this season, hopes the hard work will help silence the Columbus cannon, which sounds after every Blue Jackets goal.   

"I don't like that one much so hopefully there won't be any tomorrow," he said with a grin. 

Mrazek will be keeping a close eye on Patrik Laine, who scored twice on Campbell during Columbus' overtime win against Toronto on Feb. 22. 

"You have to be patient with him," Mrazek said. "You have to wait for his move or his shot and, obviously, it's a great shot. Just try and be as big as I can in net and hopefully it hits you sometimes." 

Since Jan. 29, Laine leads the NHL with 15 goals in 15 games. 


The Leafs rank dead last in save percentage since Jan. 8. 

"It is tough when the puck goes in your net at a high rate," Keefe said. "It is hard to play as a player. You start thinking about other things. That is the challenge for us here: to remain focused, do what we do well, clean up the things we need to get better at, and focus on how we play as a team. We are a real good team. I thought we carried play for long stretches of last night's game."

Much of Sunday's practice focused on defensive-zone coverage and clearing the front of the net. The absence of Jake Muzzin, who is out with a concussion, has left the Leafs without their most physical defender. 

"We absolutely have to do a better job in our own end dealing with pucks coming to our net," Keefe said after Saturday's game. "We didn't do a good enough job of tying up sticks, clearing out lanes and letting the goalie see those pucks. I thought we defended well to just limit them to those types of looks. We have to do a better job of blocking more shots, tying up sticks, and pushing people out of the way."

During a losing streak in February, it was rush chances that hurt Toronto the most. The team worked hard to remedy that. 

"We're doing a lot of the right things in terms of reloading above the puck and we aren't giving as many odd-man rushes as we were in the last 10 games previous to these past four," defenceman Justin Holl said prior to Saturday's game. "Now, we spend a little more time in our zone and we've been getting scored on after some zone time, so it's constant adjustments that need to be made." 

"We still have been giving up some of those tips, and those have been making life harder on our goalies," said Keefe. "Our job as a team is to make life easy on the goalies. That is where we are at, especially with where our goalies are at. They are trying to earn their confidence and we need to help them in that area. Those are things we are in control of. We can do a better job in these situations."



Ilya Lyubushkin is averaging 16 minutes and 18 seconds of ice time in six games since joining the Leafs. He ranks sixth among Toronto's defencemen in average ice time. 

With Muzzin out, there seems to be a need for a hard-nosed player like Lyubushkin in the top four. Youngsters Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren have struggled in auditions alongside Morgan Rielly so far. Liljegren, who sat as a healthy scratch on Wednesday, is currently in that top-pair role. 

"We have a spot with Rielly available," Keefe said. "But Morgan plays in a lot of offensive situations. With the way the puck moves and those kinds of things, it is important to have a guy there that pairs well with that and doesn't disrupt our offence. That is something we are mindful of ... We want to see [Lyubushkin] improve in some areas of his game, especially with the puck. He is absolutely putting the work in to make those improvements."

Lyubushkin only has 20 points in 186 career NHL games. 

The Leafs like how T.J. Brodie and Holl have looked since joining forces. So, Lyubushkin remains on the third pair with Travis Dermott. Sandin is currently sidelined with an illness and will not travel to Columbus. 

"He is in a good place," Keefe said of Lyubushkin. "If we look at some of the chances we generated last night, Lyubushkin is moving around the offensive zone. He had a great one-timer. We see some good potential there. We don't want to force too much on him as he is adjusting and learning his teammates."

Before practice started, Lyubushkin spent time going over the drill schedule with Liljegren at the white board. Then, during the first drill, he was asking Brodie how it worked. 

"He is feeling better around here in terms of knowing what we expect and what we are looking for from him," Keefe said. "He knows his teammates. He is getting familiar with the defencemen we have here. We will continue to monitor that."


Nick Robertson made the most of his shot on the second line alongside William Nylander and John Tavares. The 20-year-old scored his first NHL regular season goal on Saturday night.

"I didn't know if it was a two-on-one or two-on-two rush," he recalled. "When I got the puck, I was always taught to not stick handle and just rip it and that's what I did."

Robertson also scored for the Leafs during the 2020 playoff series against Columbus, but Saturday was his first NHL goal in front of fans. 

"It was great," Robertson said with a sigh. "I low key felt a burden. Like, I wanted to score and thankfully I did and it just felt more real. I think the bubble was more like a fake one."  

There's nothing fake about the Robertson release. 

"He's got as good a release as anybody," raved Tavares. 

"He rips it," observed Auston Matthews. "He shoots it probably as hard as anybody here. He's got a really good release and he puts everything into it every time he shoots ... He's really strong and uses a lot of down force and he gets it off pretty quick so it comes off hard."

Robertson remained on the second line at Sunday's practice. 

"He's looked really good," added Matthews. "He's looked confident. Him moving up with Willy and John really ignited that line a little bit. They seemed to have really good chemistry. Hopefully he continues to develop and progress and continues to play with confidence because when he's doing that he's a really good player and deserves to be up."  

Robertson's confidence has taken a hit in recent years due to a series of injuries, including a broken leg early this season. That's what made Saturday's moment all the more meaningful. 

"Definitely relieved," Robertson said. "I feel like I haven't scored in so long in this league even though I haven't played in many games (14). It was just nice to get one given what I've been through ... I think just the back story of this whole season for me and the adversity I had to deal with last season and this season, it feels a lot more special."

"He brought some great energy," said Tavares. "He skates really good. He's obviously very talented and I think you see growth with him as a person and just getting a better feel for the game."


Tavares snapped a 14-game goal drought with a power-play tally in the first period on Saturday. The Leafs captain looked skyward after scoring for the first time since Jan. 29. 

"He looked relieved," said Keefe. "Happy he held onto that one and shot it in himself. It is great initiative by him. It is the kind of spot where you get in and start to overthink it. He just shot it in the net and beat a good goaltender."

"When I get those chances in those areas I want to capitalize on them," Tavares said. "I want to make sure I'm doing a good job there. Nice to see it go and just build on it." 

Tavares finished with six shots, which was his highest total in a game since Jan. 26. 


With Robertson on the Tavares line, Kerfoot has dropped down to the fourth unit with Jason Spezza and Simmonds. How's the chemistry coming along? 

"It's one game," Kerfoot said. 

It was an unusually short response from the Harvard product. Kerfoot played a season low nine minutes and 39 seconds against the Canucks. 

"Frankly, Kerf deserves to play more than he did last night and deserves to play higher in the lineup," Keefe said. "It is just that circumstances being what they are, I have made the decision to give Nick Robertson a better opportunity. Last night, he did well."

With Pierre Engvall fitting in nicely beside David Kampf and Ilya Mikheyev, Keefe decided to drop Kerfoot down to the fourth line. 

"He played too little last night, but that is sometimes just the way it shakes out," Keefe said. "He is an important player for us."


Right winger Ondrej Kase skated before practice, but left the ice before the main session started. He will miss a fourth straight game with an upper-body injury. 

"He continues to be day-to-day," Keefe said. "He is not going to travel with us, but today was a good sign. The expectation is that he will skate tomorrow, ramp things up a little bit, and be a possibility for Tuesday."

The Leafs host the Seattle Kraken on Tuesday. 


Lines at Sunday's practice: 

Bunting - Matthews - Marner 
Robertson - Tavares - Nylander 
Mikheyev - Kampf - Engvall
Kerfoot - Spezza - Simmonds 

Rielly - Liljegren
Brodie - Holl
Dermott - Lyubushkin 
Clifford - Hollowell 



Special teams work at Sunday's practice:

PP1: Rielly, Matthews, Marner, Tavares, Nylander
PP2: Brodie, Spezza, Robertson, Mikheyev, Bunting