Leafs net begins to get back to normal
TORONTO — Expect to see Frederik Andersen back in his office on Monday night.
The Maple Leafs No. 1 goaltender, felled by the flu the last couple of days, is set to return to the crease after recovering from a groin injury that has kept him out since Dec. 22.
“Definitely feel ready to go,” Andersen said after the Leafs practised on Sunday. “Got the little flu out of the way and feel a lot better than the (last) two days.
“It’s just a confidence thing of being in different positions with my leg and I think we covered a good amount of ground today. It felt really good.”
The Leafs play host to the Colorado Avalanche at Scotiabank Arena on Monday night and there is a good chance Garret Sparks also will be in his usual spot, sitting at the end of the bench as Andersen’s backup. Andersen has missed eight games, while Sparks was inactive for five games in his recovery from a concussion.
Sparks practised on Sunday, while Michael Hutchinson, who held the fort with the top two Toronto goalies on the sideline, did not participate. Later Hutchinson was on the ice with goaltending coach Steve Briere and director of player development Stephane Robidas.
“I’m medically cleared to participate with the team and what they choose to do (on Monday) is up to them,” Sparks said.
Leafs coach Mike Babcock indicated we will know after the morning skate Monday who is in net against an Avalanche team that was shut out in Montreal by the Canadiens on Saturday night and has lost nine of its last 10 games.
“It would be good to have everybody back, but that is all part of life,” Babcock said. “We have to find a way to play better and win games no matter who is in net.”
Hutchinson has played in nine NHL games this season. If he plays in a 10th, he would require waivers to be sent to the AHL Marlies.
With Andersen and Sparks appearing to be set to return on Monday, the Leafs should not have to worry about possibly losing Hutchinson on waivers.
Auston Matthews has just one goal in his last nine games, but he is not lying awake at night wondering when he will score with regularity again. The Leafs centre mentioned he likes the play of his line, which includes Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen, in the last few games.
“I think we’re holding on the puck a lot m ore, making plays when the opportunities are there, they’re just not going in the back of the net,” Matthews said. “It gets frustrating at times. But at the same time, you’re generating all these chances, you’ve got the puck on your stick, you’re having these nights when you get five, six, seven shots on net and they’re high-scoring chances. There is a lot of positive things our line is doing.”
Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas got some paperwork done on Sunday, signing forward Trevor Moore to a two-year one-way contract with an average annual value of $775,000 US. Moore looked good in a recent six-game audition with the Leafs, scoring one goal and recording two assists.
Moore brings a mix of speed, smarts and determination similar to that of Johnsson.
Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen gets set for a shot from Connor Brown during practice in Toronto on Sunday. Andersen is expected to return from a groin injury and the flu to start Monday night against Colorado.