The Toronto Maple Leafs will be trying to get a win from their backup goaltender for the first time this season when they host the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night.
Frederik Andersen, Toronto’s No. 1 goaltender, stopped 19 shots Friday night in a 6-3 road victory over the New York Rangers. Mitch Marner and William Nylander each scored twice as the Maple Leafs won their third consecutive game.
Michael Hutchinson, who is 0-5-1 this season, is scheduled to start the second of the back-to-back games.
It could be a good spot for Hutchinson because the Red Wings are last in the NHL overall and have only four road wins. The Maple Leafs beat the Red Wings 6-0 in Detroit on Nov. 27.
“He has had opportunities. They haven’t come of late,” said Sheldon Keefe, who has used Hutchinson once in 13 games since replacing Mike Babcock as Maple Leafs coach. “We wish we could’ve got Freddy a break in there. We put him in back-to-backs (at Andersen’s insistence two weeks ago) and that’s where Hutch lost a start.”
“Since then, the schedule has been (spread out) for us and Hutch has had an excellent set of practices.”
Kasimir Kaskisuo has been the other backup goalie for Toronto, losing his only start when Babcock was coaching. Toronto has not had a win from a backup goalie since March 20.
“I’m feeling that I’m in a good head space, which is huge,” Hutchinson said on Friday.
“You just want games at this point” no matter where they’re played, he added.
The Red Wings have lost two in a row after winning two straight. They are coming off a 5-3 home loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, an effort that displeased coach Jeff Blashill.
“We have some guys in our room who’ve been real good players for us, and they have to raise their game up to be way better,” Blashill said. “There are a number of guys, we got talent spread throughout the lineup, that weren’t nearly good enough. Certainly the guys who get a lot of ice time can be way better.”
Justin Abdelkader, who has three assists in 20 games and has missed 15 games because of injuries, was a healthy scratch for the game against Columbus. He is an 11-year veteran and an alternate captain.
“What’s the message? He’s just got to play a little bit better,” Blashill said. “At the end of the day, he’s in a group of guys that could sit at different times. We made the decision to sit him the other night. Whether that moves forward or not, we’ll see. I’ll decide the lineup on Saturday.
“But I expect him to do a couple of things — one is to work like crazy to get back in, and I know he will, and one is to be a great mentor in how he handles this adversity, and I know he will do that as well,” Blashill said.
Former Maple Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier will start for the Red Wings on Saturday with Calvin Pickard as the backup. Jimmy Howard is expected to return from a groin injury to start Sunday against the Arizona Coyotes.
Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser is expected to miss the rest of the season after undergoing back surgery on Tuesday.
–Field Level Media