Following a second consecutive uber-frustrating loss, Kyle Dubas and the Toronto Maple Leafs front office finalized a deal to make a long-awaited upgrade in goal. Tonight, Jack Campbell and Kyle Clifford will make their Toronto debut as the Leafs face a tired 22-26-6 Anaheim Ducks team in a must-win game (7 p.m. ET, SNO).
Of course, the Trevor Moore for Jack Campbell/Kyle Clifford swap was likely in the works for a while, but it was fitting that it was finalized right after a second straight loss in which the Leafs let a winnable game slip away in front of their backup goaltender.
As Frederik Andersen remains sidelined with a neck injury and won’t travel with the team to Montreal tomorrow, it will be debutant Jack Campbell starting tonight. There is no telling what will happen tomorrow in goal, but it looks like there is a realistic possibility of a Friday-Saturday back-to-back for the new Leaf goaltender. For a netminder with all of 50 starts to his name almost entirely on bad LA teams, that would certainly be a baptism by fire in this market.
Alongside the trade news, Kyle Dubas announced that Cody Ceci will be placed on IR today and be re-evaluated in a month after sustaining an ankle injury against the Rangers. Timothy Liljegren has been called up and will start the game on a pairing with Rasmus Sandin, reuniting a pair that has played together plenty at the AHL level both this season and last.
It’s difficult to overstate how frustrating the Leafs‘ last two losses have been for their fans. There were significant defensive lapses and individual mistakes, but by PDO — granted, it’s stat that has become synonymous with luck despite that not being entirely the case — the last two games mark their worst combined shooting + save percentage figure since back-to-back losses in March of last season.
As was often the case under former head coach Randy Carlyle, the Ducks have struggled to spend a lot of time in the right end of the rink this season. The Ducks’ 2019-20 season numbers are poor — 20th in xGF/60 and 26th in xGA/60. Their trend in that regard has been heading in the wrong direction in the latter part of the season, although they’ve seen an uptick in their last three games against some weaker opposition (LA, OTT, MTL).
Backup Ryan Miller will start for Anaheim following an overtime loss for John Gibson in Montreal last night. Miller has moved more into a traditional backup role in the latter part of his career, going 6-5-2 in 13 starts with a .912 save percentage and a GSAx of 0.35. In comparison, in a similar role usage-wise, Jack Campbell has gone 8-10-2 with a .900 save percentage and a GSAx of -7.6 this season.
Game Day Quotes
Kyle Clifford on the quick adjustment to a new team:
Obviously, there’s a human element to it. I spent a lot of time in L.A, had a lot of friends, and won two cups there. There’s a lot of history there, so emotionally it’s a bit of an adjustment. You throw the kids into the factor, too — they were able to get out this morning and they got here safe, so that’s good to see. Like I said, I’ve always wanted to put a Leafs sweater on and win in a Leafs sweater. That’s the main goal. I’m really excited to be here.
Clifford on Jack Campbell:
You know, the thing with Soupy is he never gives up on any puck. He’ll fight right to the bitter end. You look at some of his highlight reel clips and you can see that. He’s always the first guy out at practice, working on his game, always trying to find an extra edge to get better. It’s good to have him here. I think the guys will appreciate what he’ll be able to bring to the table. He’s just got this edge to him. It’s exciting.
Jack Campbell on his mindset going into his first start:
Our job is pretty simple — just stopping the puck. I was thinking about that during the meeting when they were going over the Xs and Os — I just have to stop the puck. I talked to Muzz a little bit about their system playing the puck and behind the net, so I’ve got that figured out. Just time to have some fun and get it done.
Campbell on Marner paying for dinner last night:
He did. That was too nice of him. I met Mitch yesterday — he texted me after the trade happened. Just such a great guy along with the rest of the group. I’m excited to be here with this team.
Jake Muzzin on new/former teammates:
Cliff and Soup are going to come in and work extremely hard. They’re going to be prepared and ready to go. They’re two great additions to our team and two really good guys. It’s a huge addition to our club.
[Clifford] is going to bring toughness and he’s going to bring grit. He is a hard-working guy and that sandpaper — that can go a long way in games.
Muzzin on whether the trades are a message from the GM:
For sure. He’s committed to us and we have to respond.
Sheldon Keefe on the impact of Jack Campbell and Kyle Clifford:
We hope that it just brings a greater energy and enthusiasm amongst our team. I think that’s a thing. I don’t think you can ignore the fact that when players and people that have energy and are passionate and enthusiastic, it can bleed through the rest of the team. I think it’s a very positive thing. That’s what stands out the most. It doesn’t come as a surprise to me just because of the number of phone calls and text messages that I’ve received from people that have worked with these guys, whether it’s coaches or players, that have said that’s exactly what they’re going to bring.
Keefe on whether he saw his team as lacking toughness before the trade:
Not particularly, to be honest. I don’t get involved in any of that sort of stuff, I leave that to Kyle and his staff to sort through that. We’ve got enough going on here that I’ve got to focus on.
Keefe on the departed Trevor Moore:
We’re going to miss Trevor Moore. I’ve really come to enjoy him — of course, being a part of his process of him developing and all of that kind of stuff. Style of play is one thing, but also experience and presence in the locker room — I think that kind of stuff does go a long way. Kyle has recognized that and has addressed that in addition to, obviously, Campbell’s presence as a goaltender.
Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines
#18 Andreas Johnsson – #34 Auston Matthews – #16 Mitch Marner
#15 Alex Kerfoot – #91 John Tavares – #11 Zach Hyman
#73 Kyle Clifford – #47 Pierre Engvall – #24 Kasperi Kapanen
#41 Dmytro Timashov – #33 Frederik Gauthier – #19 Jason Spezza
#8 Jake Muzzin – #3 Justin Holl
#23 Travis Dermott – #94 Tyson Barrie
#38 Rasmus Sandin – #37 Timothy Liljegren
#36 Jack Campbell (starter)
#30 Michael Hutchinson
Scratched: Martin Marincin
Injured: Ilya Mikheyev, Morgan Rielly, Frederik Andersen, Cody Ceci, William Nylander
Anaheim Ducks Projected Lines
#67 Rickard Rakell – #15 Ryan Getzlaf – #33 Jakob Silfverberg
#49 Max Jones – #34 Sam Steel – #25 Ondrej Kase
#37 Nick Ritchie – #14 Adam Henrique – #61 Troy Terry
#20 Nicolas Deslauriers – #38 Derek Grant – #24 Carter Rowney
#47 Hampus Lindholm – #6 Erik Gudbranson
#4 Cam Fowler – #42 Josh Manson
#32 Jacob Larsson – #5 Korbinian Holzer
#30 Ryan Miller (starter)
#36 John Gibson
Injured: Patrick Eaves, Ryan Kesler