Campbell ready to take the puck and run with it for Maple Leafs


Ritchie taking time to adjust … Refs, Maple Leafs working it out

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Jack Campbell’s mindset won’t change.


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Not that we expected it would.

With Petr Mrazek likely out of the Maple Leafs lineup for a considerable stretch after suffering a groin injury on Thursday night in Ottawa, it will be Campbell’s responsibility to carry the load in net.

As the Leafs’ plan shifts from having a goaltending tandem with Campbell and Mrazek, Campbell doesn’t have doubt in himself and neither do his teammates.

“Soupy has been a rock for us every time he goes in there,” veteran forward Jason Spezza said after the Leafs lost 3-2 in Ottawa on Thursday night. “We have tons of confidence in him.”

There was nothing official from the Leafs on Friday during a team day off, but the expectation is that goaltender Michael Hutchinson will be on the ice with the team for the morning skate on Saturday at Scotiabank Arena in preparation for the rematch with the Senators.


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Goalies generally don’t recover quickly from groin injuries. The most the Leafs can hope for, perhaps, is that the issue won’t keep Mrazek, who has been hit with injuries at various times during his NHL career, out for the long term.


The leash for big winger Nick Ritchie to get comfortable and impactful for the Leafs has some slack to it.

If you like accentuating the positive, then you might point out that Ritchie has a team-high six hits through two games. That would be about it. Despite his size, the 6-foot-3, 236-pound Ritchie hasn’t been overly noticeable.

The 25-year-old has just two shots on goal and the chemistry he had with Mitch Marner in the pre-season has not carried over.

“He just has to find this game,” Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “Everybody’s adjusting. We play pre-season hockey and all that, but this is a different beast.


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“You’re finding your way coming from pre-season hockey to this hockey where it’s quicker, it’s more competitive, your chances are harder to come by. He has been in the league a long time. He’ll figure that out.”

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As for Pierre Engvall, the winger followed what probably was his best game in a Leafs uniform in the season-opening win against Montreal with a clunker in Ottawa, including a garish giveaway that led to the Sens’ first goal.

“Pierre was a star for us (on Wednesday) and that’s tough to do on back-to-back nights,” Keefe said. “It’s tough to find that level of consistency in the game and that’s a tough play by Pierre, but there’s a lot of game left and you have to be able to bounce back from it.”


The Leafs didn’t like some of the calls against them in Ottawa — captain John Tavares said the hooking minor he was assessed with 42 seconds remaining was “brutal” and we would agree — but in the bigger picture, Spezza likes the steps the Leafs have made with their overall relationship with on-ice officials.


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“You talk with them, you work with them,” Spezza said. “I think we’ve matured a lot in that area last year, where we’ve gained a lot more respect from the refs.

“You explain why you think it wasn’t a call. Sometimes you yell at them and it gets heated, but they’re pros too and as long as you can have cooler heads prevail and talk it over after.

“You’re not going to agree with all the calls. We respect the refs, it’s a tough job to do, but sometimes you disagree with calls.

“I think in the heat of the battle, we’re all guilty of yelling, and sometimes the refs yell back and it’s part of the game. It’s actually a great part of the ref-player relationship that goes on in hockey. But then you work with them after you talk with them. They’re good guys, trying to do their job.”


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You’d think that Keefe won’t wait too long before inserting defenceman Timothy Liljegren into the lineup. Liljegren had a fine camp and deserves that opportunity … What will the Leafs take from the loss in Ottawa into Saturday? “We just learn from it,” Spezza said. “I think we learned how they really blew the zone, pushed us back. We were a little bit caught in between early in the game. That’s something that Keefer does a good job of looking at and going over. We’ll be very prepared for the next game against these guys and looking forward to play them.” … Keefe said he thought “we had a lot of guys” who didn’t have as much gas in the tank in Ottawa the second game of the back-to-back set. That surely won’t become a season theme, will it? … Anton Forsberg’s 46 saves against the Leafs tied for the third-most by a Sens goalie in a home game in team history, but coach D.J. Smith said Friday he would wait until Saturday morning before revealing his starter. Filip Gustavsson backed up for Ottawa, which plays host to the Dallas Stars on Sunday to complete a back-to-back, against the Leafs. 

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