With Jack Campbell struggling, the Toronto Maple Leafs will turn to Mrazek for tonight’s game against the Canucks.
When Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas signed Mrazek in the off-season, many fans and reporters alike questioned the decision. The main reason he is here is to work in tandem with Jack Campbell. Head coach Sheldon Keefe was not completely sold on Campbell being able to handle a starting goaltender’s workload.
The idea was to split the playing time between the two goaltenders more evenly throughout the entire season. Due to early season injury troubles, Mrazek was unable to play. That forced Campbell into a starting goaltender role faster than the team had anticipated.
Campbell’s record this season is 21-7-3 with a 2.39 GAA and a .921 SV% in 33 games played. Overall, that doesn’t look too bad, but Campbell has not been great in his last five starts. He has surrendered 17 goals in his past five games. In Toronto’s game against the New Jersey Devils on January 31st, Campbell got pulled after allowing three goals on nine shots.
(Stats from hockey-reference.com)
Considering that Campbell has already played in 33 of Toronto’s 44 games this season, Fatigue might be starting to creep in. Campbell has started 31 of those 33 games, which is a career-high. The most games started by Campbell in a season previous to this year is 26. Toronto will need to rely on Mrazek more to keep Campbell fresh.
Toronto Maple Leafs Should Start Petr Mrazek More In Final 38 Games
Now that the Maple Leafs have both their goaltenders healthy, they should use their original plan of playing them in tandem. If Sheldon Keefe uses a 60/40 split between Campbell and Mrazek, it will result in Campbell getting 22 games and Mrazek 16 games. Doing this will help Mrazek play enough games to be ready when needed. It also offers Campbell enough rest so that he won’t be fatigued when the playoffs start.
Campbell will likely get the start for Game 1 of the playoffs, but the Toronto Maple Leafs will want Mrazek game ready just in case. The hope is that Mrazek will not need to be used in the playoffs, but you never know what might happen. So Keefe should give Mrazek enough games down the stretch to stay ready.
Another thing that will help both goaltenders is if Dubas acquires one or two defensive defensemen at the trade deadline. A better defense in front of them should result in a more manageable workload.
I think the Toronto Maple Leafs need to make use of having two capable goaltenders. Hopefully, Sheldon Keefe will find a way to give Campbell enough games to be ready for the playoffs without burning him out. I would like to see Toronto GM Kyle Dubas acquire a couple of stay-at-home defensemen to help out his goaltenders as well.