June 27, 2022

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Erik Kallgren makes a save in opposition to the Arizona Coyotes within the second interval at Scotiabank Area in Toronto on March 10.Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports activities by way of Reuters

After his nice popping out on Thursday night time, new Maple Leafs goalie Erik Kallgren was requested what he’d been pondering as he went into the sport in the course of a blowout.

“Not a lot, to be sincere,” Kallgren mentioned.

Kallgren laughed at his personal joke. However even mid-laugh, you possibly can see the gears beginning to grind. Hey, what was I fascinated with? How do I do this once more? Can I do this once more?

Kallgren is a flippantly touted Swedish prospect who’s already in his mid-20s. He hasn’t made a dent within the NHL. Folks fearful concerning the shallowness of Jack Campbell’s résumé when he arrived in Toronto. Kallgren’s CV makes Jack Campbell from two years in the past seem like Jacques Plante.

However by the tip of Thursday’s recreation in opposition to Arizona, Kallgren was the recent tip to be the subsequent Leafs’ beginning goalie.

What unimaginable factor did he do? In half-hour of 1 recreation, he didn’t let in any targets he shouldn’t have. That’s the bar now. Toronto nonetheless misplaced.

In the meanwhile, we must always cease referring to the Leafs as one complete. They’re two distinct groups.

Offensively, they’re an unstoppable drive.

Defensively, they’re an immovable object. Like a pylon or a bollard. Except they get shifting within the crease, after which they’re an unstoppable drive headed for the facet boards because the puck heads towards the online.

The constructive approach of taking a look at that is that the Leafs have change into essentially the most thrilling workforce within the NHL. No lead might be tolerated to exist of their neighborhood, neither for nor in opposition to.

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The opposite approach to take a look at it’s that they’re thrilling the way in which a motorcycle coming into a velocity wobble is thrilling. No telling how lengthy it would final, nevertheless it positively results in the ER.

The standard sample right here is to begin yelling at basic supervisor Kyle Dubas. This should be his fault. Did he lose his pocket calculator or one thing? Why didn’t the mathematics inform him this may occur?

However the present concern isn’t roster-, skills- or cap-related, or not totally. It’s as an alternative the mighty energy of the Toronto hockey market to get inside individuals’s heads and begin lighting fires.

Campbell was the Leafs’ goaltending reply till he made the error of being too good, too usually. That induced lots of people to inform Campbell he was the reply. The led Campbell to start fascinated with whether or not he actually was the reply. Quickly after that, he wasn’t the reply any extra.

There have been moments this calendar yr the place it’s important to marvel at Campbell’s capacity to get out of the way in which of the puck. Olympic gymnasts can’t transfer that approach. Some nights, you’d in all probability be higher in web since you’d simply stand there like a life-size ventriloquist’s dummy letting the puck do all of the work.

A month after it may need completed some good, Campbell was injured this week. That gave Petr Mrazek his likelihood on Thursday night time.

Mrazek was acquired within the low season to push Campbell. He’s the Military Surplus of goalies. You needed Patagonia, however you possibly can’t afford it. So you purchase Military Surplus as an alternative.

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Mrazek’s résumé advised he’d be a serviceable No. 2. Semi-decent runs in Detroit and, particularly, Carolina. Not the kind to surrender too many crooked numbers.

However what Toronto ought to have factored in was that Mrazek was not, by rule, allowed to play for the Leafs in Raleigh. He’d even have to come back to Canada and play in entrance of essentially the most cynical fanbase within the league.

Whether or not it’s town, the historical past, or the truth that reporters truly discuss to you up right here, Mrazek has been a large number. However all he had completed earlier than is nothing to what he wrought in 5 minutes on Thursday.

After two minutes, he tried punching a puck out of the air and as an alternative handed it to an Arizona Coyote on the opposite facet of the zone. 1-0.

A few minutes later, he wakeboarded to date outdoors his crease that he was enjoying centre. 2-0.

Most comical targets are psychological blips. However some are the kind they train within the PhD program at Clown Faculty. Mrazek was working on the latter stage of comedic ambition.

Afterward, Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe was given the prospect to say one thing vaguely supportive about his goalie.

“Yeah, it’s robust,” Keefe mentioned. “Nothing else to say. It’s robust.”

It was the tone greater than it was the phrases. Keefe appeared like he was speaking about an HVAC man who’d are available in to vary a filter and ended up burning down the home.

Whether or not or not he meant to take action, Mrazek gave his discover as a Maple Leaf on Thursday night time. Due to contractual obligations, it is perhaps 120-odd weeks of discover, however there’s no getting back from that vote of non-confidence.

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So welcome house Erik Kallgren. We hope that proper now somebody is waving an industrial magnet round your head in order that you can be coming off the bench for the primary time endlessly and ever. Thoughts management would be the solely approach to maintain any Leafs goalie on monitor.

Toronto is in little hazard of slipping out of the playoffs, however it’s in actual hazard of slipping in. Because it at the moment stands, Tampa’s the primary playoff collection up. Then it’s in all probability the Panthers. Each of these groups have precise goalies enjoying in entrance of audiences who don’t know the distinction between a kick save and a kick stand. Benefit: Florida.

There’s nonetheless per week or so left to commerce for a greater possibility. But when the expectations of any Toronto goalie are at all times too excessive, they’re at the moment sub-orbital. If a brand new, new, new man doesn’t work out, then what? Return to Campbell?

Right here’s a suggestion – do away with the goalie altogether. Play six-on-five the entire recreation. Get Kyle Clifford to face within the crease yelling threats on the opposing bench. Win each recreation 20-18.

Or simply choose one man and cease speaking about it.

It’s not discovering the man that’s so exhausting, and even sustaining the silence. On this city, the tough half is convincing the man you picked to cease speaking to himself.