LEAFS NOTES: Jack Campbell gets the start in Detroit as coach tries to mind his goalies’ gaps – Toronto Sun

Michigan naitve Jack Campbell gets the start Saturday night against Detroit.
Michigan naitve Jack Campbell gets the start Saturday night against Detroit. Photo by Sergei Belski /USA TODAY Sports

You’re up, Jack Campbell.

Advertisement

Two nights after Petr Mrazek provided the Maple Leafs with solid netminding in a victory against the Minnesota Wild, Campbell will look to get back in the win column in Detroit.

Campbell, whose save percentage in each of his past two starts was below .870 and has lost three of his past five, will get the call against the Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena.

Few would have questioned Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe had he stuck with Mrazek, who made 29 saves versus the Wild as the Leafs ended a three-game losing streak.

Keefe, though, doesn’t want either of his goalies to go cold.

“I don’t want there to be too far gaps between starts for either of our guys the rest of the way,” Keefe said. “That’s part of it. This one was really as simple as wanting to get Jack back in.

Advertisement

“Petr played last time in Detroit, (against) his former team (in a 7-4 Leafs win on Jan. 29). This time, it’s Jack in his home state (of Michigan).”

Campbell, a native of Port Huron, Mich., has won both of his career starts against Detroit, allowing four goals on 62 shots. It’s another chance for Campbell, who has a .899 save percentage in 15 games since mid-December, to get back the supreme form he had earlier in the season.

BURROWING BUNTING

Michael Bunting’s ability to get under the skin of opponents doesn’t come from just being a pest.

In the mind of veteran Jason Spezza, and we’re not going to argue with him, there’s a bigger factor at play.

“What separates Bunts is that he is a very good hockey player and he knows the game really well,” Spezza said.

Advertisement

“He’s on pucks all the time. He goes to the hard areas. He’s in the play. It forces teams to have to pay attention to him because he’s around the puck.

“There’s lots of guys that try to agitate. But if you don’t do much with it, it’s all you are. Whereas Bunts is a guy who has got good hockey sense. He gets to the net and he’s fearless. That’s probably why he gets the attention he gets.”

Prior to National Hockey League games on Friday, Bunting had drawn 32 penalties in all situations. Only Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, with 35, had drawn more.

Among Leafs, Bunting has no penalty-drawing equals. Alex Kerfoot is second with 13 and Wayne Simmonds third with 12.

NICE MOVE, MATTS

Morgan Rielly couldn’t help but admire Auston Matthews’ first goal against Minnesota on Thursday, when the Leafs star deceptively shot between the legs of Wild defenceman Dmitry Kulikov to beat goalie Kaapo Kahkonen to tie the game 1-1 just 27 seconds after the Wild had scored.

Advertisement

“It’s tough (for a defenceman),” Rielly said. “Not many players can score from distance like (Matthews) can.

“Ovie (Alex Ovechkin) has been able to, (Steven) Stamkos can, but not many guys can really carry the puck into the zone and be a scoring threat from the top of the circle.

“As a defenceman, it’s challenging, you try to get in the lane. You hope it hits you, but you also kind of don’t. Ideally, you can take his time and space away in the neutral zone, but when he gets in like that and automatically becomes a threat, it’s tough.”

Using a defenceman as a screen takes some work to get it right.

“What he’s able to do with his angles, he can move the puck around quite a bit, create lanes for himself,” Rielly said. “He spends hours and hours working on that, during the season and the off-season. That’s a work-ethic thing. There’s talent involved. But that doesn’t happen overnight.”

Advertisement

LOOSE LEAFS

Defenceman Jake Muzzin, recovering from a concussion, watched part of practice from behind the glass at one end of the rink. “He’s around, and I think that’s good for our team and for him,” Rielly said. “You want it to be a positive mindset. You want to be ready when you come back. You don’t want to be away for too long, you start to lose a little bit of the day-to-day routine stuff. To have him around has been really good.” … The key to the Leafs’ win against the Wild and a factor that Toronto can take forward? “Patience,” Spezza said. “It was maybe not the most fun game to watch. It was two teams that were trying not to make mistakes and maybe in the past, we would have cracked in the game like that. I thought it was a great sign that we just stayed patient with it, stayed patient, trusted the process.”

tkoshan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/koshtorontosun

opening envelope

Your Midday Sun

From our newsroom to your inbox at noon, the latest headlines, stories, opinion and photos from the Toronto Sun.

By clicking on the sign up button you consent to receive the above newsletter from Postmedia Network Inc. You may unsubscribe any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of our emails. Postmedia Network Inc. | 365 Bloor Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3L4 | 416-383-2300