Canes refuse to play Frederik Andersen against his former team tonight in Toronto

Published March 16, 2024 at 1:26 PM
BY MIKE ARMENTI

The Maple Leafs face a very tall task tonight at home against the Carolina Hurricanes, who head to Toronto on a 6-3-1 run over their last 10 games. Carolina was one of the teams at the deadline who swung the biggest, securing deals for former Capitals top line center Evgeny Kuznetsov and ex-Pittsburgh Penguins star winger Jake Guentzel, but it's not Kuznetsov nor Guentzel that will be the Leafs' biggest adversary tonight. It's Canes goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov.

The Canes announced on Saturday afternoon that Kochetkov will draw the start against the Leafs for tonight's game on Hockey Night in Canada and while that may not sound overly intimidating to Leaf fans, who have watched Auston Matthews feast on goaltenders all season long, it's worthwhile to note that Kochetkov has posted the league's 4th-best SV% among goalies who have started at least 10 games since the All-Star break. Kochetkov heads into Toronto having posted a .932 SV% over that span.


Many were hoping that we'd get to see Frederik Andersen suit up against his former team in Toronto tonight, but unfortunately, that won't be the case. The Canes starting Kochetkov tonight appears to be by design and not as a result of a regular rotation. In Andersen's last 3 starts against the Leafs, he has managed a forgettable .865 SV%, a 3.38 GAA and a 0-3 record. He also missed significant time this season due to a blood clotting issue, from which he has fully recovered.



For the Leafs, who are 7-3-0 in their last 10, taking the Canes lightly would be a huge mistake. The Leafs are battered and bruised coming into this one, missing both Mitch Marner and Calle Jarnkrok. They've also had Ilya Lyubushkin leave two recent games due to injury issues, with "The Russian Bear" also having missed practice yesterday. He is expected to play tonight, but you can bet the Canes will be targeting him all night, knowing he's not at 100%.

In addition, Leafs netminder Ilya Samsonov was forced to leave practice early this morning after tweaking something. Leafs bench boss Sheldon Keefe brushed the issue off as very minor after practice, and indicated that Samsonov was still expected to start, so perhaps a shot just caught him in a soft area and left him in pain. Either way, you know that the Canes are going to try to fire as many pucks at him as possible tonight and take a few extra whacks as a result of his injury scare this morning.

The Canes come into this one having posted 86 points on the season to the Leafs' 84 - though it's worth mentioning that the Leafs have played one less game. The Buds will have to start on time, though, to avoid letting the Canes implement their game plan. Even with a 7-3-0 record in their last 10, now is not the time for the Leafs to start dropping games. Especially measuring stick games against a potential future playoff opponent. Make no mistake, the Leafs need a win tonight, so they had better come to play.
POLL
March 16   |   594 answers
Canes refuse to play Frederik Andersen against his former team tonight in Toronto

How many points will the Leafs finish with this season? (currently 84 with 17 games left)

96-10022437.7 %
101-10528047.1 %
106-1109015.2 %
More than 11000 %
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