Toronto Maple Leafs Would Be Crazy to Risk Season on Freddie Andersen

CALGARY, AB - JANUARY 24:Jack Campbell #36 and Frederik Andersen #31 of the Toronto Maple Leafs confer during a break in play against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on January 24, 2021 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
CALGARY, AB - JANUARY 24:Jack Campbell #36 and Frederik Andersen #31 of the Toronto Maple Leafs confer during a break in play against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on January 24, 2021 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs do not have a goaltending controversy.

The play of Jack Campbell should make him the Toronto Maple Leafs starting goalie for the upcoming playoffs, no matter what.

If Andersen gets in a game before the season ends (they play Wednesday and Friday) and does well, it shouldn’t make a difference. If he has a 50 save shutout, it shouldn’t make a difference.

Jack Campbell has earned the net, and Andersen has lost it.  

End of story.  Or, at least, it should be.

The Toronto Maple Leafs Net

In Andersen’s five years in Toronto he has won zero playoff series.  That isn’t his fault entirely, and at times he has played great.  He has, however, shown a penchant for letting in cheap goals at the worst times, even when he’s playing at the top of his game.

Andersen has been elite at times during his tenure in Toronto, and maybe he even was one of the league’s best goalies for a season or two – but that shouldn’t really matter because in the NHL every goalie is capable of going on a run and there is almost no consistency in which goalies make up the league’s five best at any time.

It’s an unpredictable position at the best of times, so if you have a guy coming off a career worst season and an injury vs a guy who is – even for just a small sample – playing at an extremely high level, it doesn’t even make sense to consider a change.

Campbell is among the league leaders in save percentage (7th) and GAA (5th) (naturalstattrick.com) and has been one of the best goalies in the NHL for the 21 games he’s played.

The Leafs should not only be starting Jack Campbell, he should have the rope to have a bad game or two before they even consider switching to Andersen.  I’ve heard some people mention how, in the year the Capitals won the Cup, Holtby was in a similar situation to Andersen then was inserted after his team was down two games, only to go on one of the best runs in NHL playoff history.

This anecdote should be presented as evidence in the randomness of goalie performance, not as a an attainable template for other goalies to follow.  The Holtby thing was such a great story precisely because of how unlikely it was.

Leafs Better Off Shutting Andersen Down. dark. Next

Besides, the Campbell story is already compelling enough if you need a romantic sports story to remind you of how great this game can be.  The Freddie Andersen story is finished. He had a nice run and will go down in history somewhere below Felix Potvin and Curtis Joseph, but ahead of Vessak Toskala.

It’s Campbell’s team now.