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Mailbag: Entire Teams Of Auston Matthews And What To Do With Muzzin-Holl

All that and more in this edition of the mailbag.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Florida Panthers Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

Hey everyone, it’s the mailbag. Several themes showed up in multiple questions, especially about the defence pairings, so I tried to just pick the first one. Don’t worry, the mailbag is plenty long as it is. Grab a coffee, let’s dive in.

DGB gets all sorts of insane questions for his mailbags at The Athletic, and now he has the chance to dish one out. Let’s do some extremely dubious math.

To the best of my knowledge, Auston Matthews has never played goalie in his life in any serious way. Goaltending is almost entirely a discrete skill from hockey in general. Matthews would still outperform Random Person Off The Street based on his exceptional hand-eye coordination, his strong balance, his size, and his general high level of fitness, but goaltending is extremely difficult. Most practitioners of the art take it up at a young age and learn for years as they develop physically. Against NHL competition, which Team Kämbushbell could tenuously claim to provide, I think Goalie Matthews would be lucky to save a third of the shots directed at him, mostly by virtue of covering about that much of the net.

With that said, Matthews is one of the best puck possession players I’ve ever seen. Even granted he doesn’t play as a defenceman, I would anticipate that the 20 Matthews Gang would dominate the puck to a greater degree than any existing NHL team. Ageless possession god Patrice Bergeron controls about 65% of the shot attempts when he’s on the ice; he does it on an exceptional defensive team, granted, but every NHL team is also better than Team Kämbushbell. I think the 20MG would brush up against the maximum possible limit for how much of the play you can control against other pro athletes—because there are always going to be bounces, bobbles, missed passes leading to rushes against, etc. I’m going to guess 20MG get 80% of the shots attempted, and 80% of the shots on goal. At Matthews’ typical shot rate, I’ll ballpark the shots at 60-15 for 20MG over the course of the game. (It’s all at 5v5 because, obviously, in a game with this many Auston Matthews the refs will refuse to call any penalties.)

Finally, the shooting. Matthews is scoring on about 18% of his shots on goal this year. He’ll presumably be able to put himself into even better scoring positions as a clone squad, but whichever of our Matthews clones have to play defence won’t shoot that well; even Paul Coffey in the 1980s peaked at 15.5%. I also think Kämbushbell will do its damndest defensively; Kämpf and Lyubushkin are both solid defensive players who are going to hang on for dear life against this onslaught. As for Jack Campbell, well, what can you say? He was superhuman for several months, he’s been a good backup before, and he’s had a few recent months where he’s been a sieve. Goalies being what they are, I’m going to put him around league average. After some sophisticated math/voodoo, I say the 20 Matthews Gang as a group scores on 15% of its shots.

Throw all that in a blender?

The 20 Matthews Gang gets 60 shots, and 9 of them go in. Team Kämbushbell puts 15 towards Goalie Matthews...and with his sterling .333 save percentage, Goalie Matthews lets in 10. Team Kämbushbell celebrates a hard-fought 10-9 victory and douses each other with Gatorade while society collapses under the destructive effects of human cloning.

Probably. The Nick Ritchie deal was a total dud, but the Leafs got out of it without too much pain; Arizona gets to pick between a 2025 2nd-round pick and a 2023 3rd, and in exchange the Leafs got the immediately-waived Ryan Dzingel and useful sixth defender Ilya Lyubushkin. Mrázek will probably cost more to unload. Pretty much everything else Dubas did besides Ritchie and Mrázek either worked out well or didn’t matter, so there we have it.

The only other question: how much of this was obviously a mistake at the time, and how much was just bad luck? Mrázek was coming off a solid run with the Carolina Hurricanes; you can discount stats for Hurricanes goalies on the basis they make it easier on their netminders, but until recently the opposite seemed to be true. Plus, Mrázek also had some very good stretches for the Detroit Red Wings earlier in his career, who were not good. He had a few injuries, sure, but he’d also played over 250 NHL games. Scouting had him as a 1B-type, which was about what the Leafs signed him to be. Look at the other goalies on the UFA market and you’ll see several names that have had abysmal years for similar or more money than Mrázek’s 3x$3.8M. Phillipe Grubauer got 5x$5.9M to be Seattle’s starter and has been dreadful; the much-touted Alex Nedeljkovic has struggled behind Detroit’s terrible defence. Goalies! Who knows?

In the end: the signing has been a bust, at least so far, and very possibly the Leafs will pay to unload it in the offseason. But I don’t think Mrázek is actually this bad, and the signing wasn’t dumb.

I am adequate! Thank you for asking.

I find this question hard to understand or explain, and yet my immediate and instinctive answer:

F: Florida
M: Tampa Bay
K: Boston

Make of this what you will.

Steak just about as rare as they can serve it to me with mashed potatoes. Call me old-fashioned. Also, they can probably make it really rare since I’m about to die anyway.

The way he’s played this year, there’s a reasonable argument he isn’t. The question is at what point you toss out a long career of very good defence, as well as the fact he’s undeniably been made to look worse than he is by a bad PDO. Our blogboss Katya Knappe looked at Muzzin’s season this week, so I refer you to her for a full analysis, but it’s been rough.

If it were up to me: I think you keep giving him chances to get up to speed and judge where he’s at by Game 1. Realistically, though, I think the Leafs are going to play him if they think it’s at all viable.

It would help a lot! The vast majority of fans go years and years without seeing a championship. To mine what pleasure you can out of sports fandom, you have to try to find joy in moments, like Sundin’s “PING” shot or the Matthews four-goal game, etc. Part of the misery around the Leafs has been, despite all their talent, there have been comparatively few of those moments in recent years from a playoff perspective. If Toronto heroically dumps the Bruins before falling respectably in Round 2, this season will still feel better than the last four.

It may be cliched, but I really have to go with the Big Three here.

Living: Nylander. He simply is; and he is at peace with that.

Loving: Marner feels like he has a lot of joy in his heart.

Laughing: Matthews has been known to do this while getting mugged from behind by various Montreal Canadiens.

He is fine. He’s not a bad player; he’s not a great player; he shouldn’t be the best player on a line. I still like him more as 2LW than Mikheyev because I think Mikheyev is a bit of a one-man band; he dazzles on the rush but doesn’t play off his teammates quite as well as Kerfoot.

This leads to a boring answer as to what to do with Kerfoot. Don’t trade him in a lateral move, don’t hesitate to trade him if you see an upgrade possibility. There shouldn’t be great pressure to either unload him or to cling to him.

1. Only you can answer that. Usually it’s family, friends, geography, or in some cases, pathological poor judgment.

2. I think it mostly is smart. Hockey as a sport has a lot of randomness in its playoff results, and we tend to assume more meaning than there really is. The Leafs have also been one game away from winning in each of the last four years; for all the little it’s worth, they have a very reasonable argument they outplayed the Habs last year and got unlucky. Toronto lost their captain to a freak injury ten minutes into Game 1 and still outscored the Habs 18-14 in the series. In isolation, we’d probably chalk that one up to misfortune.

But...

Conventional wisdom is that playoff hockey is different from regular season hockey. I don’t take conventional wisdom as gospel, but I don’t throw it all the way out, either, and it’s hard not to notice that the Leafs’ vaunted offence hasn’t been there for them at a few critical moments. I don’t think you’re crazy if you think that’s bad luck. I don’t think you’re crazy if you suspect there’s a little more to it than luck, either.

This is difficult because who Jake Muzzin has been for us and how he’s played this year lead to very different answers. Sandin has also played extremely well and yet is being squeezed positionally. As of this instant:

Rielly - Lyubushkin
Brodie - Holl
Giordano - Liljegren

I wouldn’t really bother hard-matching any of those pairings based on competition, just try to get Rielly on with Matthews and Giordano on with Tavares. If Muzzin has recovered his form to some extent by G1, he goes in.

Will you watch Canada in the World Cup?—Leafer1984

I assume this means men’s soccer. The answer is: if I’m with people who are watching it. The Leafs are really the only team I can be bothered to watch alone, but if it’s a social occasion, sure, I’ll have two beers and pretend to understand the bizarre offside rule.

Is this the year we stop hearing ridiculous complaints about the toughness of the Leafs’ blueline?—sunlightwarden

I’m afraid we both know the answer to this: only if they win in the playoffs. This narrative is immune to everything except series victories, and in the absence of those, it will not die.

I’ll mirror your non-Phil trade: what if the Leafs hadn’t traded for Kessel in the first place? The picks they gave up were used to draft Tyler Seguin (2nd overall in 2010) and Dougie Hamilton (9th overall in 2011), who could have been the foundation of a very good Leafs team that Brian Burke would have had to ruin in some other way. Without Kessel Toronto would have been worse, which might have led to them drafting higher; so maybe they get Taylor Hall in 2010 or any of several very good players in 2011 (Jonathan Huberdeau, Sean Couturier etc.) I think we definitely would have had more fun in the 2010-2016 period. After that...who knows?

Basically no.

One of the chief ways people get into a sport is by playing it when they’re young. It’s not the only way, and other ways are just as legitimate; it’s just one of the big drivers of sports fandom. Hockey has three major problems in this respect: ice rinks are much more expensive than fields or courts; hockey player equipment is much more expensive than other major sports; and hockey has a pronounced injury risk that frightens parents. There are ways to mitigate each of these problems; I don’t think there’s any way to make it so hockey is as accessible as baseball, basketball, or football—to say nothing of soccer, which is the world’s game because it’s exceptionally easy to start playing it.

I give the NHL a hard time for being too traditional, and I think they do some things badly. But even if Gary Bettman were the best sports commissioner in history, I don’t think there’s a future where hockey is higher than the #4 sport in North America, and more likely #5.

Once we’ve discarded scientific ethics to the point of generating whole teams out of test tube duplicates, I assume we’ve descended into a nihilistic moral void in which clone armies ravage the land in eternal warfare, limited only by the capacity of each combatant to fuel its clone vats. So my answer is that you will crave a world in which petty legalisms like entry waivers gave you shelter from the unnatural state of nature into which we’ve plunged. Also Clone Bettman will just keep doing favours for the Cloneyotes regardless.

Spezza, Simmonds, Giordano. Age before beauty.

I suspect it’s not so much that he’s blind to their recent struggles as that:

1. He remembers their prior success
2. He knows that a lot of their misery this year is rooted in bad goaltending

Yes, Muzzin-Holl has looked rough this year, and I think they’ve earned some of that poor on-ice save percentage. But do you know what Muzzin-Holl’s xGF% is this year? 54.8%. That’s quite good!

Okay, I hear you: the actual goals haven’t been matching that nice xG. This season that’s true. But last year the pairing clobbered in both xG and real goals, and they did it the year before that, too. This is a pairing that was by any standard a success for two seasons, and now it’s a pairing that still seems to control play well enough, but is getting burned by PDO, which we know can go wild in any given year. Jake Muzzin has had a long career as a great defenceman; Justin Holl has had terrific results in recent months with T.J. Brodie, so at the least he hasn’t forgotten how to play second fiddle to a good partner.

So the real question is: how long do you stay patient that the goals will work themselves out based on past results and present metrics? And I do think there’s a point, and we’re getting close to it, where you give up on a recovery. Without signs of improvement in the next couple of weeks I wouldn’t run them G1. But I see why Sheldon Keefe wants to give that pairing a chance to recover.

My esteemed colleague Brigstew named Bojack Horseman, and I think that’s the answer. That show routinely has lines that hit like a ton of bricks.

It’s hard for me to pick anyone but William Nylander. Many athletes have an intense, hard-driving personality, which would gibe awkwardly with the fact I am myself out of shape and that I was a mediocre athlete at best. William Nylander seems to just enjoy being alive, and why wouldn’t he?

Apocalyptic nuclear war. Ten minutes left in the third, everyone hears the siren go off, the announcement comes over, and we have just enough time to say of course before we’re all vaporized.

I think the level of play he’s currently at is greater than any American player, with all due respect to Mike Modano and no respect to Patrick Kane. For “greatest” in the way it’s generally used, you do need to rack up achievements; Modano has one ring and the Chicago winger has three, plus a Hart and an Art Ross. Matthews already has one Rocket and is poised for a second, so he’s doing fine in the individual hardware category, but I think he needs at least one championship to really make his case.

Perhaps we’re projecting our traumas on them. Much to think about.

Lyubushkin: I think he’s more likely to go than to stay just based on the logjam of personnel. As a physical, penalty-killing RD, he can probably be an everyday player somewhere else. The Leafs, by contrast, have six defenders under team control for next season who could conceivably play ahead of him even if they don’t sign any others. (That would be Rielly, Brodie, Muzzin, Holl, Sandin, Liljegren.) If the Leafs unload Muzzin or Holl and don’t re-sign Gio, it gets a little more likely; the team does seem to like him.

Mikheyev: Mikheyev is very probably gone. He requested a trade before the year, he wants a bigger role than the Leafs have been giving him, and he’s scoring goals at a torrid pace while killing penalties. He’s going to get a raise and I think he’ll get it from someone else. Let’s hope we get a fun playoffs with him before he goes.

Giordano: I think there’s a good chance Giordano is back. He’s still good, he’s well into the Hometown Discount phase of his career, he really wanted to come to Toronto, and in the early going his pairing with Timothy Liljegren looks promising. The only caveat is that this probably entails a Jake Muzzin trade, so if that isn’t happening/costs too much, it might be tricky to fit Gio in.

I hate to say it but I doubt Spezza gets to 1000 points. He would have to go point per game the rest of the way, and he’s been producing a third of that this season, plus he’s now an occasional scratch. Unless the Leafs are feeling especially sentimental, I’m not sure he comes back next year, either; they already have Wayne Simmonds under contract and you can only carry so many fringe guys. Spezza joining the organization in some non-playing capacity, though, wouldn’t surprise me at all.

This answer is painful, but I also don’t think he has any realistic chance at the Hall of Fame, 1000 points or not. The door might open a bit if the Leafs win the Cup this year, but Spezza has no NHL individual awards and no ring. He was probably never the best player on any of his teams, unless you credit him for Ottawa’s 2010-11 transition season between Daniel Alfredsson leaving and Erik Karlsson hitting his prime. He was just very good for a long career, and he didn’t rack up enough counting stats to get him admission. None of these things have any bearing on my feelings about Jason Spezza, which are that I love him.

To emphasize, by “ceiling” I understand the question to be “the most I could see him getting if everything goes right”, not a number I actually expect, because this’ll sound bananas. That said: the highest number I can talk myself into is 75. Matthews takes a little over four and a half shots on goal per game; his career shooting percentage is 16.5%, whereas this year he’s at 18%. Let’s say he goes on a heater and shoots 20% on that volume for a full season; you get to about 75 goals. It’s not inconceivable he could shoot even better, and he’s been on a holy tear for the last 50 games or so, but 75 in a year would already be ten goals better than Alex Ovechkin’s peak, and I think Ovechkin is the greatest goal-scorer of all time. More feels like too much to dream of even for a ceiling.

The current All-Star Game rosters have nine skaters and two goalies, for a three-on-three format. I’ve decided to allow Conors with one N as well as the more standard Connors. Here are your trios, with two forwards and one D in each.

Team Connor/Conor

Centres Wingers Defenders
Connor McDavid Kyle Connor Connor Murphy
Logan O’Connor Conor Garland Conor Timmins
Connor McMichael Connor Brown Connor Clifton

Goalies
Connor Hellebuyck
Connor Ingram

This is a pretty decent squad given our strictures; the defence isn’t very good, but there’s a lot of scoring and Hellebuyck was recently the best goalie in the world. Really that top unit is just unanswerable 3v3; it can’t defend, but it won’t really have to.

And at the other end of the rink, we have, uh, these guys. Much of this team’s power relies on the fact that “red” shows up as three consecutive letters in a lot of names; the rest of the Crayola Eight only give us one or two players apiece.

Team Names With Colours

Centres Wingers Defenders
Jared McCann Colin White Jared Spurgeon
Colin Blackwell Connor Brown Zach Whitecloud
Frederick Gaudreau Jordan Greenway Andy Greene

Goalies
Frederik Andersen
MacKenzie Blackwood

I hate to say it, but I think Team Names With Colours is gonna get their collective ass beat to one of the shades present in their names. They do have the advantage that they can claim a current NHL coach (Peter Laviolette) whereas there is no active Connor running an NHL bench, and they have the best defenceman in this matchup (Spurgeon). But that isn’t going to save them from the fact that Connors McDavid and Kyle are going to take all that open ice and go to town. Oh, and Andersen is going to fall apart under the pressure of this critical matchup. Final score 11-4.

It’s a two-stepper: win a round and then don’t get embarrassed after that. If the Leafs go down swinging against the Florida Panthers in R2, that will be disappointing, but I will content myself with it. If they get annihilated in four or five games even a first-round victory will be a bit sour.

I’ve addressed some of this above, but quickly: Lyubushkin goes. Giordano hopefully stays if Muzzin goes. Blackwell can stay for a salary in the low $1M range but I wouldn’t try to outbid anybody for him. Spezza I expect retires, Mikheyev I expect leaves in free agency, Campbell I think stays for cheap but it depends how the playoffs go.

You know, I don’t even mind Billy Joel in general? But that song and most of the Tweets parodying it are a plague. AND THAT IS THAT.

Who is your 1) current and 2) all-time favorite Bruin?—I Am Rad Boss

Bleh. I will acknowledge it’s very hard not to admire Patrice Bergeron, who I think has a case for the best defensive forward in NHL history. All-time, it’s goaltender Dave Reece, who made an important contribution to society when the Leafs’ Darryl Sittler lit him up for ten points in one game and set a league record.

How many Russians are actually going to be drafted this July across the league (a relative value is fine; ie: far less, the same, etc.), and will Dubas roll the dice on a free agent Russian again as he often does in the off-season?—Species

I am whistling Dixie here, but I’m going to guess “somewhat less but still some.” I think the risk of a player not coming to North America is going to lead to a lot of the “maybe” guys getting passed over for other draftees. Still, the draft is 224 picks long, and by that point anyone who an NHL team thinks might actually be good is worth a flier. So there’ll be some falling off towards the bottom but not a wipeout.

What does the goaltending situation look like next year for the Leafs? Should they try Campbell-Mrazek again or go back to the drawing board?—LeafsFan709

So much of this depends on the playoffs, which will go a long way to determining Campbell’s next contract (if he barely appears, well, that will help determine it too.) This may not be a popular opinion, but I wouldn’t commit myself to unloading Mrázek if the price is high to do so; I strongly suspect he’ll be better next year than this year and goalie shopping in free agency is a mug’s game anyway. There aren’t a lot of great UFA options out there: you’re looking at Marc-Andre Fleury (old and had a brutal start this year), Darcy Kuemper (likely to re-sign in Colorado), and then a whole lot of guys who a year ago, we would have classed as about equal to Mrázek. If someone wants to take Mrázek for basically nothing, I get running a platoon with Campbell/UFA Guy, but otherwise...yes, I’d probably run it back. Gulp.

How much do you think the playoffs will affect how the roster is addressed in the offseason, if at all?—thehumourisironic

Enormously. If this team gets swept out of Round 1 there are going to be major changes. Simple as that. If the team is highly successful (say conference finals or better) you might see a pretty quiet offseason, e.g.: Mikheyev, Lyubushkin, and maybe Muzzin leave, Gio extends, Dubas picks out a forward or two from the bargain bin again.

The Leafs and Marvel Studios agree to produce a limited series of promotional comic books: each issue one Leafs player and one MCU hero team up to defeat some nefarious villain.

Marvel would like to use Captain Marvel, Shang-Chi, Moon Knight, Sersi (Eternals), Kate Bishop (Hawkeye), and Sam Wilson Captain America.... for some reason YOU are in charge of matching up those heroes with one Leafs player each. Who do you pick and why? (For bonus fun, what villain does each pair take down?)—Zone Entry

I have seen exactly one of the six features referenced above (Shang-Chi), so I’m totally unable to answer this properly, but when has that ever stopped me?

Captain Marvel - partners with Nylander for dazzling blondness to overwhelm the enemy.

Shang-Chi - Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds spends forty minutes telling his talented but careless young partner to shape up and then when they finally get in a fight Simmonds absolutely kicks some goon’s ass. Go Scarborough.

Moon Knight - I feel like the Moon Knight, who shifts identities regularly, could use a stabilizing presence, so naturally I pair him with T.J. Brodie.

Sersi - I’m pairing her with Odysseus because that’s the story that makes sense to me. It’s my mailbag, I get to do what I want.

Kate Bishop - Well, she’s a sniper, putting her with a playmaker seems natural? Marner it is. He can toss her arrows mid-fight. Get those sweet one-timer KOs.

Captain America - We will balance him with a Canadian Captain in John Tavares. Granted, we might have just made the most boring comic book duo of all time, but they’ll get the job done.

All of them are fighting Loki even though he gets defeated every time. Hey, if Marvel Studios gets to reuse him over and over, so do I.

In Space Base, do you focus more on ships that provide money, income, VPs, or special powers? Do you have a very favourite ship?—Zone Entry

I have never heard of Space Base, but for the sake of an answer: I’ve sunk an unholy amount of time into Stellaris, where you build a space empire. My strategy is usually to welcome everyone, be very friendly, guarantee everyone rights, and then to use my allies to opportunistically conquer the galaxy. Look, nobody’s perfect.

After an ascendant season buoyed by heart and leadership and not just PDO, Montgomery Burns must recruit 6 NHL players as ringers in order for the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant to guarantee their victory over their bitter rivals in Shelbyville. Who are the 6 NHL players, what unlucky fates befall 5 of them, and who is the defenseman who replaces noted defensively responsible defenseman with a big shot Homer J. Simpson from Sector 7-G?—dhammm

Matthews: tragically placed on IR due to nuclear mustache rot.
Marner: injured while bouncing off the roof trying to do pogo tricks.
Tavares: gets caught in the “untied loafers” trick.
Kaše: gets Frank Grimes’d. The man has had terrible luck.
Campbell: effectively already is Ned Flanders, so Homer will inconvenience him into ineffectiveness.

Big old Jake Muzzin replaces Homer. Good luck, Jake, you’ll need it.

What’s the best bad movie that nobody seems to have heard about? What’s the worst bad movie that is popular for being a great bad movie?—Borjed To Death

As has been well-established, I’ve barely seen any films, but I’ll try here:

At one point in my life I saw a movie called Crash Dive, which won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 1943. Spoiler alert: the film is essentially an advertisement for the U.S. Navy with a love triangle baked in. The problem for me was that they cast two extremely similar-looking clean-cut white guys as two male corners of the love triangle, and I couldn’t really tell them apart, so it was hard to follow (“I’m in love with him”, “that’s fine we’re basically the same guy” etc.) One of the characters has a big prejudice against submarines for some reason (?). Another, after nearly being killed, wakes up on the deck of the ship and requests “some milk and a smoke”, which has stayed in my mind forever. Also it ends with like a nine-minute explosion, which I assume won it the award, followed by a monologue from the main character talking about how he has now learned to respect all the boats in the Navy. Wonderful stuff.

I haven’t seen a lot of the classic Good Bad Movies (Plan 9 From Outer Space etc.) but I did take my brother to see Aquaman. I’m all for fun dumb movies—I have seen all nine of the mainline Fast and the Furious films—but Aquaman was genuinely not that fun. Jason Momoa is great as a Good Times Bro to have as a supporting character, but since that’s all he can really do, it drags pretty hard when he has to carry a whole movie. It also wanted me to take the gigantic CGI sea creature war at the end more seriously than anyone should.

Both. He’s paid and performs like a superstar, but if he’s routinely contending for the Hart Trophy he’s going to be able to command the highest salary in the league if he wants it. I genuinely don’t know what the Leafs’ walk-away number would be with Matthews. If he demands $14M a season for eight years or he leaves, and he’s playing at his current level, Toronto is going to give it to him.

Bunting - Matthews - Marner
Kerfoot - Tavares - Nylander
Mikheyev - Kämpf - Engvall
Blackwell - Spezza - Kaše

Rielly - Lyubushkin
Brodie - Holl
Giordano - Liljegren

Campbell
Källgren

The exact minutes breakdown depends on how many penalties there are, but I play the forwards more or less as Keefe does: Matthews a lot, Tavares a little less, Kämpf for every d-zone start I can manage, and Spezza for a little offensive opportunism around the edges. I probably would play the fourth line a little more than Keefe does, trying to not wear the top guys out too much in Game 1, but that’s not a huge difference.

As for pairings, I’m going without a hard match pairing. Rielly should get offensive starts with Matthews when possible, but I’m close to a balanced three pairings there and that’s my plan. Insofar as one pairing has to do more dirty work with the Kämpf line, It would be Gio-Lily.

Living is a prerequisite for the other two unless we’re getting supernatural, so I think it wins on essentiality. However, one needs all three to find true happiness and/or to make a Homesense knicknack.

I consulted one of our Marlies writers, Hardev, for this: Woll has been injured on and off throughout this year, including a knee issue that kept him out from mid-January to the last week of February. While he was playing for the Marlies at the time Erik Källgren was called up (March 10), the Leafs were still working him into the rotation and Woll was poised to start for the Marlies on March 11, so he stayed to play there.

I don’t think the Leafs really wanted to play their third- or fourth-string goalie, but Mrázek dragged Källgren into action by getting pulled against Arizona on March 10 and then putting up another dreadful start on March 13. Källgren took the net briefly with a show of competence, and I don’t think he’s really been bad since, but he did fade back down towards mediocrity after a few games. Meanwhile, Woll has gotten injured again, this time his shoulder, and has not played since March 17.

Short version: injuries and bad timing led Woll to miss an opportunity that the Leafs hoped wouldn’t be there.

I don’t know if Rom is making a reference joke here, so I have to play this one straight. Jakub Vrana has finally recovered from a shoulder injury that kept him out of the Detroit Red Wings lineup and he’s come back scoring because he’s always been a good offensive player. Also he’s shooting 23%, so that helps.

I hate to say this, but there’s a pretty good chance this is going to turn out to be a “both/and” instead of an “either/or.”

Thanks to everyone who contributed!