The Leafs 3 stars of the week: Alex Kerfoot continues career year, Ilya Mikheyev impresses early on
Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
By Joseph Zita10 months ago
After what felt like forever, we finally had some Maple Leafs hockey to look forward to throughout this past week. With two games on the schedule this past week postponed for the blue and white, we were lucky enough that they had two other games on schedule too, and we’re grateful that they ended playing both of them. Games against the Carolina Hurricanes and the Montreal Canadiens were postponed due to COVID-19/attendance issues and games against the Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche were given the okay to be played.
They started their week in Edmonton to take on the McDavid-less Oilers and honestly handled them pretty well despite Edmonton actually looking dangerous at some points throughout the game but Toronto held their own and continued their success down in Edmonton by picking up a 4-2 win on the road. They then followed up that game with a trip to Colorado to play the red hot Avalanche who have won 10 straight home games coming into Saturday night’s game. I don’t really want to get into it because Toronto had a 3-0 and 4-1 lead and then proceeded to lose 5-4 in overtime. Well, at least they picked up a point! Right?
Record during week 13: 1-0-1 | Season record: 22-8-3 (47 points)
3rd Star: Jack Campbell – 2 GP – 1 W – 3.50 GAA – .911 SV%
Some of you may be looking at Jack Campbell and his numbers here and be saying, why is he one of the three stars? Well, he played a great game in Edmonton and followed it up with another one in Colorado, despite giving up five goals to arguably the best offense in the league. Yes, Campbell did allow five goals to the Avalanche, but it doesn’t help when the team in front of Campbell allows the opposition to take 49 shots on net, 22 of them being in the third period and in the overtime period alone.
He’s been their MVP all season long so far and has been the main reason why they have the record they have right now while sitting where they are in the standings, so if you want to call this one game an off night for him, do it, but without Campbell in that game against Colorado, who knows what the score might’ve been at the end of the game.
Really though, without him in Saturday night’s game, I don’t know what the score would’ve been at the end of the game because he made some unreal saves for the Maple Leafs in that contest, including one that is already arguably the early save of the year where he pulled a Marc-Andre Fleury and jumped across the crease to glove save rob the shooter of a potential goal.
After these two games against the Oilers and Avalanche, Campbell now has a record of 17-5-3 with a 1.99 GAA and a .936 SV% which is just insane given that we are almost halfway through the 2021-22 NHL season already. However, given his success so far, I would still like the Maple Leafs to take it easy on him and if possible, let Petr Mrazek play in some games as well. But I mean, if Campbell is rolling, you gotta let him own the crease.
2nd Star: Ilya Mikheyev – 2 GP – 1 G – 1 A – 2 PTS
After making his season debut against the Ottawa Senators a week ago, Ilya Mikheyev has quickly impressed a lot of people so far through his first three games of the regular season, myself included. He’s been hit by injuries in two out of his first three years in Toronto and on top of his inability – or I should say, bad luck of finishing the puck – Mikheyev has come out of the gates flying this season and honestly looking like the same Mikheyev we saw in his rookie season when he started the year off great.
Picking up two goals – one on the power-play and one short-handed – against the Senators a week ago, Ilya Mikheyev was looking to continue that into these two games against the Oilers and Avalanche. Well, safe to say he did and he’s been a great addition to this penalty kill as well with his strength, speed, and stick work. Mikheyev picked up another power-play goal against Edmonton and has honestly looked pretty good on the offensive side of the puck. He’s shooting much more now and has a combined 17 shots in his first three games of the year while showing improvements with those shots and even his hands while making plays to his linemates.
He then picked up a single assist in Saturday’s game which was also a power-play point where he fed a pass down low to Simmonds who dished it off to Ritchie on the right side of the goalie who buried it home to give the Maple Leafs a 4-1 lead at the time. With four points in his first three games of the season, while playing good defensively, Mikheyev has been an early bright spot in his return from his injury.
1st Star: Alex Kerfoot – 2 GP – 2 G – 3 A – 5 PTS
What a year it has been for this man right here. Alex Kerfoot is currently playing the best hockey of his career this season and continued his success in these past two games against Edmonton and Colorado by collecting five more points – two goals and three assists – to improve his point total to 24 points in 33 games this season. Being included in the Kadri for Barrie deal back in July of 2019, Kerfoot has had a rough go so far as a Maple Leaf given the half-season due to COVID, him breaking his jaw and sustaining a concussion, etc, but he’s honestly come around and has been a great addition to this team dating back to his play in the playoffs.
With 24 points – six goals and 18 assists – in 33 games this season, Kerfoot is currently on pace to have his best season yet in his NHL career with 60 points. His career-high in points is 43 which he set back in the 2017-18 season and has yet to come close to it in the last two seasons as a part of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He recorded 40 points in 2018-19, 28 points in 2019-20, 23 points in 2020-21, and now 24 in just 33 games, and it’s great to see this come from Kerfoot, given that Kadri has been having great success over in Colorado.
With all that said, Kerfoot started his week with a multi-point game against Edmonton which included both a goal and an assist, and then followed it up with a great three-point night against his former team, the Colorado Avalanche, and all three points came in the first period alone too. It sucks he and the team couldn’t continue the success further into the game and get the win but it’s great to see Kerfoot finding success this season with whoever he is with on a line.
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