If the Leafs end up with Tampa in round 1, they'll need Jack Campbell to be at his best

Published April 24, 2022 at 2:22 PM
BY BRADLEY CELSIE
Last off-season, the Toronto Maple Leafs signed free agent goaltender Petr Mrazek to play a tandem role in net with Jack Campbell, but so far, Mrazek has not worked out. Mrazek has not been able to stay healthy and even when he has played he has struggled. But for the first half of the season, Campbell was able to take the net and run with it on his own.

For the first three months of the season (October 2021 - December 2021) Campbell was excellent, posting a .937 save percentage and 15 wins through 23 games. But since January 1st, 2022, and Campbell has struggled, posting an .890 save percentage through 25 games.

For reference, the league wide save percentage this season is currently 0.907. Typically for goalies in the NHL, anything over 0.920% is considered spectacular, and anything under .900% is considered horrendous.

With Petr Mrazek out for the season, and a rookie backup goaltender in Erik Kallgren, it feels like all the Leafs playoff hopes in goal rest with Jack Campbell. And maybe that is not such a bad thing. Don't forget, Jack Campbell played really well in last years playoffs, despite the Leafs losing in the first round to the Montreal Canadiens. Campbell posted a .934 save percentage in seven playoff games last year, second only to Tampa Bay Lightning phenom Andrei Vasilevskiy (.937%).


So why did Jack Campbell struggle so much midseason? Campbell's single season career high in games was 31 prior to this season, this year he has played 48, with likely two more starts to go. As he is not use to the full grind of the NHL regular season, it is likely Campbell was experiencing fatigue. Campbell also seems like a guy who puts a lot of pressure on himself, and thus more likely to experience mental exhaustion in addition to physical exhaustion. Soupy has also missed time due to injuries this year, it is common for goaltenders to struggle when they return from injury. Lastly, throughout a long NHL season it is common for all players to have highs and lows. Campbell, when he was high, was one of the best goaltenders in the league. It should have been expected that he would hit a slump at some point during the season.

The most important question now is which goaltender can we expect to see come playoff time? Soup seems to be a bit of a streaky goalie, and he is getting hot at the right time. In his last three games, he has posted a .932 save percentage. Albeit a small sample size, what has stuck out to me most is how calm and confident he has looked in the net again. He has had good rebound control and has given his team a chance to win, which is all you can ask of your goaltender.

If the Leafs are going to go far in the playoffs, they will need Jack Campbell to be a big part of it.
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