The Toronto Maple Leafs may have won yet another contest at home, thanks to a hat trick by James van Riemsdyk, which helped the Leafs edge the Dallas Stars 6-5 in a shootout. However, they loss big in the contest. Starting goaltender Frederik Andersen was pulled out of the game roughly midway through the second period.
Andersen left the game and headed straight to the Maple Leafs locker room, and that would presumably indicate that he has suffered some kind of injury although that is merely speculation on my part at this time. Andersen was replaced in goal by backup goaltender Curtis McElhinney for the remainder of the game. While the Leafs did not reveal the specific nature of his injury they did reveal that is is an "upper-body injury," and that in of itself has led to speculation on how Andersen got injured during the game.
To be clear this is pure speculation on our part, but there was a moment during them game when veteran defenseman Roman Polak shoved a Stars player, causing that player to fall down on top of Andersen. Again to be clear I am not saying this is what caused the injury, but it's the only thing that comes to mind without going back to look at the tape from last night's game.
Obviously if Andersen were to miss any significant length of time due to this injury it would be a huge blow to the Maple Leafs, although they do seem to be relatively secure in their current playoff spot. If there's any kind of silver lining here for the Leafs is that Andersen will finally get a chance to rest after taking on a huge workload this season and facing a massive number of shots on a nightly basis as the goalie for the Leafs.
On Thursday morning, the Leafs made an emergency call-up as they recalled goaltender Garret Sparks from the Marlies in the American Hockey League.
The Leafs are back in action tonight against the Buffalo Sabres.
That being said Andersen's injury comes at a time when the Leafs are already without another one of their star players, star center Auston Matthews, and that will be a tough deficit for the Leafs to overcome in their next several games. Matthews suffered a shoulder injury when he was sandwiched between two opposing players roughly three weeks ago.
"I think just because there was contact from both sides," he said. "It’s tough to brace yourself from both sides there, so it was just kind of a flukey play and unfortunate. But, you know, it happens."
The good news is for the Leafs that Matthews seems to be closer and closer to returning each and every day, and unless this is a long-term injury for Andersen they could both be back in the line up sooner rather than later.
"I’ve felt better every day," said Matthews as per Sportsnet. "It’s nice to get on the ice with the guys and kind of take reps … instead of just skating by yourself. You can get your timing and stuff back, which is a big key when I return to play."