Maple Leafs’ Andersen wonders if enough is done to protect goalies

Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe updates the "very encouraging" progress of Frederik Andersen from his neck injury, what advice he'll have for newcomer Jack Campbell, opening the possibility of Campbell starting back-to-back.

TORONTO – Caution and preservation were spiked with hope Monday, as Frederik Andersen returned to his normal spot in the Toronto Maple Leafs crease.

Practising in full for the first time since suffering a neck injury one week ago, while backups Jack Campbell and Michael Hutchinson shared the other net, Andersen will see how his body responds to the day’s workout before giving a thumbs-up to actual game action Tuesday, when the Leafs host the Arizona Coyotes.

If Andersen is unable to play, Campbell will make his third consecutive start.

Andersen and William Nylander’s rejoining the club was offset by a rash of absences — John Tavares (illness), Justin Holl (illness), Zach Hyman (maintenance), and Kyle Clifford (personal) — in a line-juggled session at Ford Performance Centre.

“It was a challenge. At one point there I think we might’ve had as many goalies there as we had defencemen,” quipped coach Sheldon Keefe, hopeful that everyone is available by puck drop.

But the biggie is Andersen, who put in solo work Thursday, Friday and Saturday with goalie coach Steve Briere while the rest of the Leafs were scrounging for precious overtime points.

“The reports have been really good, and he’s putting in a lot of work here while we were playing last week to get himself back up to speed,” Keefe said.

In addition to fighting through lower-body injuries, Andersen has a history of getting knocked in the head and neck area. Enough that the 30-year-old has wondered whether the league is doing all it can to protect netminders while promoting speed and offence.

“I’ve thought about it a little bit this week,” Andersen said. “They’re taking a really good step in putting the onus on players that are hitting another player, especially in a vulnerable position.

“I think the same could be done for the goalies and making sure that nothing bad like that happens too often.”

Andersen routinely throws up roadblocks when discussing specifics around his injuries. Understandably, it’s a sensitive topic for an otherwise forthcoming athlete.

He declined to reveal whether getting knocked by Mark Pysyk or collided into by Frank Vatrano and Jake Muzzin did the most damage last Monday. Nor did Andersen wish to dive into the nature of his symptoms or the steps he’s taking to rehabilitate.

Andersen does report he’s “feeling good” and that the healing process has been a positive and measured one.

“I definitely got bumped a couple times in that game, and it’s just the nature of the position, I guess,” Andersen said.

“It was a neck thing. I don’t want to go into specifics, but [I’m] just making sure I can play at a level I need to be at and making sure there’s no symptoms.”

Andersen and Campbell went out for dinner together Sunday night, as the two California trade imports prepare to share the Toronto crease for the foreseeable future.

“What a great guy. I mean, just calm, cool, collected but genuine,” Campbell said.

“I’ve heard through the grapevine around the league how nice of a guy he is. It’s nice to finally be on the same side and going after the same goal of just winning, so it’s fun.”

Even more so when everyone is healthy.


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