So this is what having a top tier goalie feels like?
Since arriving in Toronto, Jack Campbell has given Toronto Maple Leafs fans a feeling they haven’t felt in nearly 20 years, a sense of trust in the ability to win low-scoring games as much as they can win high scoring ones. Tonight he’ll be looking for his 11th straight win to start the season which would set the all-time NHL record, breaking a current tie with Carey Price.
Standing in his way are the Ottawa Senators who despite their position at the bottom of the North Division have refused to roll over against the Leafs, winning three of seven games between the two Ontario rivals. In a year where the draft lacks a clear franchise player, there’s been less of a push for bottom feeding teams to tank, so the young Senators have been playing for pride and developing their future stars in Thomas Chabot, Brady Tkachuk, and Tim Stützle.
If Toronto wants to prove to the rest of the league that it deserves a position at the top of the standings, they will have to show that they can dominant games when necessary. A game against a local rival, while your netminder is going for an NHL record is just about as necessary a win as they get during the regular season. The only question left, is can the boys in blue show up when it matters most?
Adding to the drama is this could be the last game as a Maple Leaf for a number of players on the roster. With the trade deadline set for Monday at 3pm, a few skaters further down the lineup could see themselves traded, or their position on the team taken by a new acquisition. More than just a regular season game, tonight’s matchup is also an audition for why some players deserve to stay for a chance at the Stanley Cup.
Tale of the Tape
Toronto: Jack Campbell
The friendliest man in the NHL goes for his eleventh straight win to start the season as he continues to show he’s more than just a backup goalie. After being placed on IR this week, Andersen’s role on the team is quickly diminishing and at the current rate, it’s expected that Campbell will continue to hold starting duties even when Freddie returns. Locked up for another season on his current contract, Campbell is giving the Leafs both short and long term security for the foreseeable future.
Ottawa: Anton Forsberg
Forsberg has been impressive since joining the Senators, posting a respectable .918 save percentage and nearly beating the Leafs in his first ever start for Ottawa. After bouncing around a few teams to start the season, Forsberg seems to have finally landed on a team willing to keep him, and his numbers so far have shown that’s the correct choice. With Matt Murray and his $6.25 million/year contract struggling, Forsberg’s netminding heroics at league minimum have been a welcome reprieve for the cash-concerned Senators.
Where to tune in?
The game is scheduled to start at 7pm on CBC and Sportsnet Ontario.