No other playoff-bound team is having goaltending issues like the Leafs

Mar 8 2022, 6:52 pm

Coming into the 2021-22 season, goaltending was supposed to be a strength for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Leafs had signed veteran Petr Mrazek to complement Jack Campbell, who was tasked with being a full-time starting option for the first time in his career.

Mrazek suffered various injuries throughout the first few months of the season, but Campbell seemed to handle the workload well enough, even being tabbed as the betting favourite for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goalie at one point.

It’s safe to say that’s no longer the case, with the Leafs’ security in net all but evaporated.

Since December 1, the Leafs’ goaltending duo (mixed in with a game from Joseph Woll) has put up a .885 save percentage. That’s 28th in the league, ahead of just Montreal, Seattle, Detroit, and New Jersey, teams sitting 30th, 31st, 23rd, and 26th in the league standings, respectively.

Of the 15 other teams currently in a playoff spot, all 15 have a top-20 save percentage since then.

Can you hear the alarm bells ringing yet?

Mostly, the Leafs have been able to outscore their problems.

Over those 33 games since December began, they’ve put up 139 goals, the third-highest total in the league, while allowing 117. As leaky as the Leafs’ netminders have been over the past three months, the team’s defence has done a pretty good job of shot suppression, with their 52.56 shot attempts against per 60-minute rate ranking 7th in the league.

They’ve gone 20-10-3 over that stretch, a .652 points percentage that would be the fifth-best over a full season in their history. So much for solid goaltending beingĀ essential to a team’s success. The Leafs have had nothing close to league average goaltending (.909 this season, per Hockey-Reference), and yet they’ve still won twice as many games as they’ve lost in regulation.

Monday night’s game was a perfect microcosm of the Leafs’ season. Mrazek gave up four goals on 35 shots against, and the Leafs blew a 3-0 second period lead, but Toronto’s offence came through with a 5-4 win.

“I thought he played a lot better than the stat line is going to show today,” Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said of Mrazek’s performance.

There’s no easy fix for the Leafs’ goaltending woes, either.

The trade deadline is just 13 days away, but it’s tough to imagine Toronto bailing on either Campbell or Mrazek at this point. Mrazek is just fifteen games into his Leafs tenure on a three-year deal, while Campbell is set to become a free agent this summer if he doesn’t sign an extension in Toronto.

“I see a guy who looks close to finding his game again,” Keefe said of Campbell this week.

For now, the Leafs seem like they’ll be sticking to the course and hope that their goaltending bounces back sooner rather than later ahead of the postseason.

Adam LaskarisAdam Laskaris

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