May 20, 2022

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There was a time this 12 months when Jack Campbell utterly misplaced his confidence. The place he could not make normal saves. Could not cease a seashore ball even when I attempted.

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It occurred in early March, simply as he missed a few weeks on account of a mysterious rib damage that was taking longer and longer to heal. And for some time, you did not actually perceive if the Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender was taking part in as a result of he was damage or as a result of he was afraid of injuring his workforce.

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This model of Jack Campbell was not the one we noticed within the seven-game sequence in opposition to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Nonetheless, it wasn’t sufficient because the Leafs misplaced 2-1 in Recreation 7.

Like Frederik Andersen in 2018 and 2019 and James Reimer earlier than him, Campbell once more did not do his job within the obligatory Recreation 7 win. He could not beat Andrey Vasilevsky, simply as he could not beat Montreal’s Carey Value. a 12 months in the past

However that does not imply he – and the core members of this Leafs workforce – should not get one other probability to do it once more.

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Campbell, who has performed this season with out understanding whether or not his subsequent contract will come – or from the place – handed the check even when he did not see the Leafs previous the primary spherical. He deserves an extension. Judging by how a lot of this sequence he performed with Vasilyevsky with out saves, one might even argue that the 30-year-old deserves a promotion.

This shall be one of many many questions common supervisor Kyle Dubas has to reply in one other low season of uncertainty. That’s, if Dubas nonetheless runs all the pieces. Something might occur after the workforce did not qualify for the second spherical after six years of post-season qualifying. What you’ll be able to’t do is let Campbell go.

The Leafs have a number of unrestricted free brokers, together with the anticipated Ilya Mikheev, Jason Spezza and Mark Giordano. However a very powerful one is the one which followers name “Souuuuuuuup”.

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Scroll via the listing of the reason why Toronto did not get previous Tampa Bay and you will not discover Campbell’s title anyplace. He answered the decision by recording a shutout in Recreation 1 and averaging 3.33 targets over his first six video games. Even when he was pulled in Recreation 4, he recovered, making 32 saves in a key win in Recreation 5.

Within the seventh sport, the stakes had been increased. And as soon as once more, he did not fold.

The Leafs did not want Campbell to face on their heads or steal a win. They only wanted him to maintain them within the sport, like the entire sequence. He did simply that, stopping 23 of his 25 photographs. However sadly for the Leafs, the goalie on the opposite aspect of the pitch was slightly higher.

This sequence was not a goalkeeper duel. In truth, removed from it. Earlier than Recreation 7, each groups had scored a whopping 44 targets in six video games. This was principally because of the high quality of the expertise up entrance slightly than the standard of the goalkeepers.

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In spite of everything, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos could make even the perfect picture odd.

This modified within the seventh sport. After six below-average video games, Tampa Bay’s Vasilevskiy will present up identical to Value did when Montreal had their again in opposition to the wall in opposition to Toronto final 12 months. Vasilevsky, final 12 months’s Conn Smythe Trophy winner, is nice at this clutch. In spite of everything, in a latest NHLPA participant ballot, he was voted the goaltender you’d prefer to see in a sport to win.

The true Vasilevsky got here to play on Saturday. It was the primary sport during which he didn’t concede three or extra targets. It was the primary sport you noticed of a goaltender who grew to become playoff MVP final 12 months.

Wasilewski was implausible initially, stopping John Tavares and Marner at shut vary within the first interval. Even because the Leafs beat him, Vasilevsky was helped by the on-ice umpires, who shrugged off Tavares’ vital second-period purpose with a game-changing mishandling.

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In the meantime, Campbell struggled to carry the fort. He didn’t permit a single comfortable purpose or errors. However he wasn’t good both. And on this evening, the Leaves might use perfection.

Tampa Bay scored first when Ross Colton’s shot bounced off Morgan Reilly’s stick and almost deceived Campbell, who made a save however rebounded on Nick Paul, scoring his first of two targets of the sport.

After Toronto equalized at tic-tac-toe with a go from Marner to Matthews and Reilly, Tampa Bay made it 2-1 thanks to a different purpose from Paul that handed T.J. Brody earlier than blasting previous Campbell.

Within the third interval, Paul almost scored a hat-trick when he ran down the flank and headed for the web. In doing so, he was pushed from behind onto Campbell’s leg. The puck stayed out and Campbell stayed within the sport.

As soon as once more, he stored Toronto inside attain.

In different phrases, he did his job. However on this evening, few of his teammates might do the identical.

mtraikos@postmedia.com

twitter.com/Michael_Trykos

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