Sheldon Keefe was asked if he felt like the Toronto Maple Leafs were walking a bit of a tightrope with two banged-up goaltenders. His answer didn’t inspire confidence with a steady drumbeat of games on deck.
“Yeah, a little bit,” said Keefe.
Frederik Andersen stayed back in Toronto as the team embarked on a four-game road trip and is scheduled for a follow-up appointment Thursday that should determine the next steps in his recovery.
He hasn’t played since March 19 and isn’t believed to be dealing with a season-threatening issue. But he’s not going to play any time soon.
The Leafs will have Jack Campbell back between the pipes in Winnipeg on Wednesday night, which is good news, but there’s no guarantee he’ll feel good enough to go when they face the Jets again on Friday.
Campbell has been battling through a lower-body issue that’s been on-again, off-again throughout a season where he’s gone 6-0-0.
“It’s kind of a day-to-day thing,” said Keefe. “He’s progressed well and it seems like when he has time to recover from his recent games that he does bounce back and feels good. So there’s less of a concern there, but it’s something we have to manage.
“We have to be responsible with it as a staff, and be smart with it, and he’s got to be honest and tell us exactly how he’s feeling so we can make appropriate decisions.”
The Leafs have found their way through the uncertainty and stayed atop the North Division standings — although that could change Wednesday with Winnipeg only one point behind. While it might be tempting for general manager Kyle Dubas to look for more goaltending depth on the trade market, he’s got limited cap space and wants to use it to upgrade his forward group.
When healthy enough to play, Campbell has been excellent. He’s got a .945 save percentage and is 9-2-1 since being acquired by Toronto in February 2020.
But it hasn’t been easy to fight through a leg injury that forced him to miss a month early in the season and then another three weeks in March.
“As a player, being injured is probably the most frustrating thing you can go through,” said Leafs forward Jason Spezza.
“People don’t see what goes on behind the scenes,” added teammate Zach Bogosian. “It’s pretty easy to tune in at seven o’clock and see us, but there’s a lot that goes into it behind the scenes and Soupy’s been working so hard in the gym trying to battle back.”
After watching Monday’s 3-2 overtime loss to Edmonton in street clothes, Campbell is giving it another go against the Jets. How he feels Thursday will determine when he plays next.
“It takes a lot of character to get through something like that and he’s shown that,” said Bogosian. “He’s a huge part of our team. I think his personality is great, he’s awesome in the locker-room and I think he’s one hell of a goalie, too.
“We’re confident with him back there.”