Toronto Maple Leafs: Freddie Andersen’s Return to Action

Feb 10, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen(31) makes a save during the first period of the game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 10, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen(31) makes a save during the first period of the game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs played what amounts to an exhibition game last night.

With a playoff spot assured and the North Division locked down, the Toronto Maple Leafs were just playing out the schedule Wednesday night against Ottawa.

The only real interest in this game – besides getting to see some of the impressive young Senators players one last time before next season – was the return of the Leafs former starting goalie Frederick Andersen.

Andersen hurt his knee back in March and was unable to play down the stretch, during which time backup netminder Jack Campbell ran away with his job. Last night he got back to game action for the first time since the injury.

Toronto Maple Leafs and Freddie Andersen

I feel bad for Andersen because he was this teams MVP for a while when they were overachieving, back at the start of the rebuild. He singlehandedly allowed many of the key players on today’s roster to get some playoff experience they probably would have been denied had Lou Lamoriello not gambled on Andersen five years ago.

Last year’s playoffs were overshadowed by his team’s inability to score, but he played very well, and the Leafs were in first place when he was injured.  I supposed he hasn’t exactly inspired confidence over the last couple of years, but I think a lot of that had more to do with the team’s lack of success than anything else.

In almost all other realities, Andersen’s return was heralded as a necessary, and right on time, development to the Leafs playoff aspirations.  In this one though, Jack Campbell put in a half-season of Vezina-quality goaltending and that’s that. (stats naturalstattrick.com).

There is no reason for Andersen to start another game this year, but of course anything can happen and he will likely be a key player for one reason or another over the next weeks or months.

As for last night’s game, Matthews scored his 41st and Sheldon Keefe, for reasons I can only imagine are compelling, failed to play the bottom of his lineup as much as he should have.  With nothing to play for other than theoretical later round seeding, the Leafs should have used their top guys sparingly and let Pierre Engvall and Alex Galchenyuk enjoy playing 25 minutes.  

Next. Only One Thing Can Stop Leafs From Destroying Habs. dark

Ben Hutton did lead the team in 5v5 ice time, so I guess that’s something.  Still, I didn’t enjoy seeing Tkachuk run Matthews in a meaningless game.  Now it’s on to Winnipeg for one more exhibition game before the fun begins.