Ferraro on the Maple Leafs' lackluster powerplay
The Toronto Maple Leafs skated at Scotiabank Arena on Thursday morning.
As Jack Campbell looks to establish himself as a starter in the NHL, the 29-year-old must learn to ride the ups and downs associated with a heavier workload.
"He's too hard on himself, to be honest," said winger Zach Hyman. "I try to tell him that, but that's just who he is. He's always expecting the best out of himself and putting lots of pressure on himself to be the best that he can be."
Campbell called himself out in Montreal on Monday night saying he was "pretty embarrassed" after allowing three goals on 24 shots. It was his first loss of the season after he set a new NHL record with 11 straight wins to open the campaign.
"He expects a lot from himself, which isn’t a bad trait," said defenceman Justin Holl. "But we were talking to him in the locker room after and we have a lot better to give him as well. It's a team effort every game and we're looking to get back on the right track."
Campbell still owns a .930 save percentage this season, but his numbers are starting to come back to earth. He has an .891 save percentage in his past four starts.
"The reason why he was getting the attention he was with setting the record and the run that he was on was because it's not normal," noted coach Sheldon Keefe. "That's not how it goes. You got to be able to deal with these situations. It's all part of the process and I really don't think it's an issue. We've come to know Jack accepts the blame and puts things on himself, but part of him playing more is he's got to be even keel and brush things off and I certainly believe that he will and that he has."
Campbell always seems to bring his best against fellow Michigan native Connor Hellebuyck, who is the projected starter for Winnipeg tonight.
"He's a great friend," Campbell said following a shootout win over the Jets on April 2. "When I was struggling early in my career, he was always right there and texting me and coaching me a little bit back in the early days. He's always been there, so I appreciate his friendship so much. It's fun to be competitors and battle now. Any time I play him I know I’ve got to be on my game if we want to have a chance."
"He definitely brings his 'A' game every time I see him," Hellebuyck noted on April 2. "He's such a great guy on and off the ice and, you know, [it's] a good rivalry. I'm excited to see the success he's having."
Hellebuyck is aiming to snap a three-game winless streak against Toronto (0-1-2).
Frederik Andersen has started skating again as he works his way back from a lower-body injury.
"It was awesome to see him on the ice," Hyman said. "He's a massive, massive part of our team and ... he's such a good guy to be around. To see him back in his element, back on the ice, is extremely encouraging for us. He's a good friend and I love having him back in the fold."
Sidelined since March 19, Andersen worked with goalie coach Steve Briere ahead of team's main session Thursday. Keefe said Andersen has actually skated multiple times in recent days.
"I don't think he's close at this point to actually playing," Keefe added. "This is all part of the process. My understanding is he's going to come on the road with us, so that is very, very encouraging. It's good to have him back out there in his gear."
After tonight's game, the Leafs are scheduled to play twice in Vancouver and then three times in Winnipeg before returning home.
"He said he’s been feeling better and better,” said Holl. "I'm just hoping that he can get healthy. We're definitely going to need him."
Auston Matthews will miss tonight's game. The 23-year-old centre briefly tested out an injury on Thursday, but left the ice before the Leafs skate started.
The NHL's leading goal scorer (32) appeared to get hurt when Flames defenceman Michael Stone hit him late in the second period of Tuesday's game. Keefe was asked if the issue is similar to the hand/wrist injury that kept Matthews out of three games earlier this season.
"It's similar, but not the same," said Keefe. "We're not expecting it to be something that's going to hold him out for long."
John Tavares moved up to the top line, skating between Alex Galchenyuk and Mitch Marner. Alex Kerfoot is now the No. 2 centre. He skated between Hyman and Ilya Mikheyev.
"We have a lot of depth on our team," said Hyman. "It's just an opportunity for somebody to step up. It will be by committee, because nobody can fill Auston's role, obviously. Big task for us against a great opponent that's chasing us."
Adam Brooks will draw in and play his second game of the season with the Leafs. When Matthews missed his first game on Jan. 22, Brooks scored his first career NHL goal.
"It's exciting for him being a Winnipeg kid," Holl said. "I'm sure he's looking to build on his last performance and hopefully find his second career goal."
Matthews leads the Leafs in power-play goals this season with nine. Galchenyuk took Matthews' spot on the top unit at the morning skate.
Toronto is just one for 38 on the power play over the past 16 games. The Leafs have also surrendered three shorthanded goals in that stretch.
"We haven't seemed to be able to get some traction to feel good about ourselves consistently," said Tavares after the Leafs failed to convert on a double minor opportunity in the third period against the Flames on Tuesday.
"We're getting some looks and creating some opportunities, but at times we're not as in sync as we'd like to be. We're working at it. We're trying to be as best prepared as we can. We know the opportunities are only going to be one or two a night, which is how it gets down the stretch and into the playoffs ... Hopefully we can get a break or two. We had one just bounce off the post. We had some good shots in the middle of the ice and then there's opportunities where we want to keep the puck and find a way to be a little crisper and be able to put the opponent on their heels."
Toronto went 0-for-8 in their past two games against Winnipeg, including missing out on a full two-minute power play in overtime on April 2.
The Leafs have won all three previous games without Matthews this season with all three coming against the Oilers. However, this is the first time they will be forced to play without both Matthews and William Nylander, who is still on the NHL COVID list.
"He's awaiting one more negative test," said Keefe. "If he remains negative then he'll be able to join our team tomorrow."
Nylander has been in isolation since April 7 after coming into close contact with someone who was potentially positive for COVID.
There is no set timeline for Nylander's return to game action.
"I spoke with him last night just to see where he's at," said Keefe. "He's feeling good and he's been able to get a little activity in ... with the bike and some weights. We'll see how he is when he gets on the ice and see how he feels. Ultimately it will be up to Will and how he's feeling and we'll make the decision from there. I'm not locked into anything."
After being placed on the COVID list yesterday, Nick Robertson was cleared and will play tonight.
Jason Spezza returns to the lineup after missing Tuesday's game due to what Keefe called "wear and tear." Scott Sabourin will be the odd man out up front.
Logan Stanley stayed out late at the optional Jets skate and will likely be a scratch tonight. Ville Heinola is projected to draw in.
Lines at Thursday’s morning skate:
Galchenyuk - Tavares - Marner
Mikheyev - Kerfoot - Hyman
Thornton - Engvall - Simmonds
Robertson - Brooks - Spezza
Rielly - Brodie
Muzzin - Holl
Dermott - Bogosian
Power-play units at Thursday's morning skate:
Galchenyuk - Tavares - Marner
Robertson - Thornton - Spezza