Jack Campbell Is to Maple Leafs Modern Day Version of Grant Fuhr

Jack Campbell, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)
Jack Campbell, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs stopped their losing streak on Thursday night, winning 5-3 against the Winnipeg Jets.

The first period wasn’t pretty, if you were a coach, but for the fans, it was fantastic. Both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets went goal-for-goal, before things settled down in the second and third period.

After a few shaky performances, and Sheldon Keefe saying that the team had a “goaltending issue,” it was great to see Campbell secure the win with a 34-save performance. After the first period, the game could have gone one or two ways. This could have been another 6-5 goal-fest like we saw against the Ottawa Senators two Saturday’s ago, or it could have tightened up defensively.

The latter happened, which is a great sign for the Toronto Maple Leafs. In previous seasons, Toronto would’ve had the doors blown off them after losing the 2-0 lead early in the game. Once Winnipeg tied it up 2-2, everyone in Leafs Nation would’ve turned off the TV because they knew what was about to happen.

However, this season is different. The team has a much better defensive system, led by T.J. Brodie, who’s turned into, in my opinion, the best defensive defenseman on the roster. His addition has made the rest of the depth so much better and Kyle Dubas deserves the executive of the year award for locking him up to a $5M x 4 year contract last offseason.

Campbell Is Leafs Version of Grant Fuhr

Obviously the defense is much improved, but Campbell’s performance over the past 15 games should be recognized.

Campbell now has a 12-2-1 record, .919 SV% and 2.30 GAA. Those are the exact same stats that Freddie Andersen had with the Anaheim Ducks (via: hockeydb.com), the season prior to the Leafs acquiring him. His stats were based off 43 games, but still. Campbell has clearly shown that he deserves to be a starting goalie in the NHL.

The biggest trait that Campbell possesses though, is his willingness not to give up the last goal. I’m too young to have watched every Edmonton Oilers game in the 1980s, but Grant Fuhr was famous for that trait.

Even if Fuhr gave up five goals, if the Edmonton Oilers were tied 5-5 or winning 6-5, he wouldn’t give up the next goal. For whatever reason, he was always his best when the game got tight and Campbell is continuing to play like that.

If you include Toronto’s empty-net goal with five seconds left last night as a one-goal win, Toronto has won eight one-goal games with Campbell in net this year.

As shown by their win against the Jets on Thursday, Campbell is at his best when the game is on the line and they need a big save. Despite giving up a few disappointing goals early, his game got better as the game progressed and he came up clutch when it counted.

If the Leafs get a lead on the Jets in the third period again on Saturday night, try and watch Campbell’s poise and confidence late in the match. Game-after-game, he’s continued to make huge saves and deserves all of the love he’s getting right now.

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With Andersen slowly getting back to 100 percent healthy, Campbell will need to continue to be clutch in the dying moments in the game, to make sure that he gets the net during Game One of the Stanley Cup playoffs.