Nearly two months since his injury, Frederik Andersen is back between the pipes for the Toronto Maple Leafs. His departure came in the middle of the team’s lone dip in results and was quickly buoyed by the emergence of Jack Campbell. While many have felt comfortable moving on from the team’s starting goalie for five years, the Leafs have invested in Andersen’s return, both in terms of playing time and the salary cap.
What was wrong
We know Andersen’s injury was “something around his knee” and it caused him to lost some mobility in terms of pushing and stopping for pucks. When Andersen joined the Toronto Marlies for his AHL conditioning stint, those limitations were still there, especially in the beginning.
Frederik Andersen says injury is "something around my knee"— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) April 26, 2021
Relieved it's heading in the right direction
Didn't feel confident pushing off or stopping, which is why he decided rest/recovery was necessary following that game March 19
How the AHL stint went
His first game, which was only scheduled for 30 minutes, really felt like a pass/fail test for his knee to make sure all systems were functioning. He didn’t push himself at all, which worried pretty much everyone who watched, including me.
In the second game, I was hoping to see a full 60 minutes where he was pushing to the limits it would feel in a meaningful NHL game. Unfortunately, he gave up three goals in a little more than 20 minutes. His big issue was drifting past his stopping point as the puck came on two goals. One, he was moving too far to the left as the puck went right, and on the second he was moving into his net as the puck went high.
However, Andersen’s second half showed a lot of promise. He was moving and reacting to pucks at what felt like fast forward compared to his play before that. The 6’4” goaltender was diving for rebounds and covering them up, making that second effort, moving aggressively. It’s like he was moving on instinct rather than focused on where his body was. He even got out of his net to play the puck and hit a forward with a three-line stretch pass (I do not condone those from goaltenders).
Apparently that period and a bit of feeling dialed in and moving on instinct was all he and the Leafs needed to end his conditioning stint at only one and a half games and bring him back to the NHL for his start against the hot Ottawa Senators tonight.
After his first AHL game, I was extremely worried about Andersen’s future in the short and medium term. After the first half of the second game, I was more downtrodden. But by the end of that second game, despite giving up another goal in the third and eventually losing in a shootout, it looked like he was at least ready to give it a try.
When the injury took hold and Andersen had that slow fall from grace, we saw Campbell give his second efforts full beans. Campbell can really extend himself and explode towards the puck when he needs to against rushes and rebounds, that was something I didn’t see out of Andersen before he went on LTIR. Thankfully, it has come back as we saw it a few times for the Marlies as the team was mounting a comeback. It was a big relief to see those moments out of him. He’s capable of trying that extra 10%, he just needed to be healthy.
Frederik Andersen: "Today I was trying to push it a little bit with [more] intensity. It got better and better as the game went on, just playing hard on every puck, and I think just trusting that I can have energy to play a full game and trusting everything I've done as far."— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) May 8, 2021
How the Leafs can afford to bring him back before the playoffs
I have no idea, but Zach Hyman is on LTIR now and Rasmus Sandin was moved to the Taxi Squad.
#Leafs have activated Freddy Andersen off of LTIR.— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) May 12, 2021
In order to make the needed space to activate Anderson, Toronto assigned Rasmus Sandin to the Taxi Squad, and placed Zach Hyman on LTIR retroactive to April 18.
This left them with $350,000 in non-prorated Salary Pool relief. https://t.co/T9twj9xA2v
Various Leafs and Branches
European Report: A champion is crowned | by: Katya
31 Thoughts: Eichel whatever and Ryan Hardy potentially joining the Leafs | by: Elliotte Friedman
“How Maple Leafs stretched themselves to build deepest team yet” | by: Chris Johnston
What Wayne Simmonds is showing us about the sacred relationship between a Black man and his barber | by: Shalise Manza Young
That last one is a must-read.
So we know why Tavares was in a terrible shooting slump, and now there’s only one logical explanation for why Pierre Engvall has two goals in his last three games.
John Tavares said he was using Pierre Engvall's stick for about a month before deciding to change his own stick earlier this season.— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) May 11, 2021
New equipment comes slowly these days, so Tavares wanted to test drive a new option before committing.
The playoff matchups are set in stone now. Leafs vs. Habs, Oilers vs. Jets. The only unfinished business is where Vancouver, Calgary, and Ottawa finish in the Draft lottery. The NHL is determined to play those final games and they released start times as a result.
Initially, those start times looked like they were indicating the playoffs would be overlapping those final games, but John Shannon is reporting the playoffs won’t start for a whole other week.
We know the NHL regular season will end around 4 pm mountain/6 pm eastern in Calgary, next Wednesday.— John Shannon (@JShannonhl) May 11, 2021
What that means for the North Division, is the two series that will start in Edmonton and Toronto, can start as early as that night, the 19th. They will not start earlier.
Mikhail Abramov scored in the playoffs last night and did the Matthews thing!
Safe to say Patrik Laine did not have a good year.