The Stage was set for a dramatic return by Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Freddie Andersen.
Out since the last game before Christmas, Toronto Maple Leafs superstar, starting goalie, savior and best goalie the team has had in two decaades, Frederik Andersen was set to make his return for the biggest game of the year – tonight vs the Bruins.
But he is out with the flu.
And the Leafs have recalled Kasimir Kaskisuo in an emergency basis to cover for him. Garrett Sparks remains concussed and man of the hour Michael Hutchinson – aka Big Hutch – is getting another start.
Hutchinson Has Been Great
Michael Hutchinson, acquired for a 2020 fifth round pick, will make his fifth straight start tonight against the Bruins. He has played every single game of 2019 for the Toronto Maple Leafs and is 2-2 with a .919 save percentage and a 2.53 goals against average.
Numbers don’t matter too much across just a small four game sample size, so the important thing to remember about Hutchinson is that he’s given the Leafs a chance to win in all four games he has played.
Obviously none of those teams are the Boston Bruins, and obviously he’s not Freddie Andersen, but I still feel pretty confident with him in net.
As good as he’s played, he is most likely headed to the AHL when the Leafs get their two main goalies back. Even if he is outplaying Sparks – and the numbers are much better – Sparks would be lost to waivers if the Toronto Maple Leafs tried to send him to the AHL.
If you are curious, with the Toronto Marlies two goalies spending time in the NHL, they are using a combination of Eamon McAdam and Michael Carteig (although he’s likely to eventually be their starting goalie, Hutchinson hasn’t played for the Marlies yet)
Really, you can’t say enough good things about Michael Hutchinson, as being without their starting goalie, and their backup goalie, could have sent the Leafs into a tailspin, but instead they are holding their ground.
They could use a bit of a hotstreak, as the Bruins are starting to get close, but they haven’t really lost any ground on Tampa (other than playing one less game) and at least theoretically it’s still possible to catch them.
It gets less likely every day, but it could happen. Remember, the Leafs still haven’t really played a single game with their best lineup.