NHL Ontario News: Keefe On Campbell’s Struggles, Sens Dealing With Flu Outbreak, More

Sheldon Keefe Says Jack Campbell Is Dealing With “Mental Block”

The Toronto Maple Leafs are sitting pretty with a 35-14-4 record, but concerns in the crease have been mounting in recent weeks.

No. 1 goalie Jack Campbell struggled mightily in the month of February. He went 3-2-1 with a woeful 3.42 goals against average. Head coach Sheldon Keefe even pulled him during the team’s thrilling 10-7 road win over the Detroit Red Wings.

Backup Petr Mrazek had to relieve Campbell in the third period, and he did just enough to help Toronto escape with a win. Mrazek also got the starting nod for Monday’s game against the Washington Capitals, a 5-3 Toronto victory.

Prior to Monday’s game, Keefe said that Campbell is dealing with a “mental block.” However, the Toronto bench boss isn’t concerned about it lasting long-term.

“It’s a mental block kinda thing going on right now that he’s got to work his way through, but he’ll get there” Keefe said, via Sportsnet’s Luke Fox.

Toronto shares the fourth-highest Stanley Cup odds with the Carolina Hurricanes at +1000. Maple Leafs may be interested to know that current legal sportsbooks in Ontario will launch on Apr. 4.

“It’s simple. I’m the same goalie I was to start year as far as strategy and talent, things like that,” Campbell said,via Fox. “Just relax and having some fun and not beat myself up too much. So, I’m still working. You know, it’s a process. But I have great people in my life, great teammates, and I’ll snap out of it. It’s just having fun and chilling out a little bit. That’s it.”

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Through his first 38 games of the season, Campbell went 23-8-4 with a 2.55 goals against average and a .917 save percentage. The 23 W’s already mark a career-high for the 2010 first-round pick of the Dallas Stars.

Ottawa Senators Enduring Flu Outbreak

The Ottawa Senators have fought through many obstacles in what has been a trying 2021-22 season. Things have gotten even tougher heading into the month of March.

Per Sportsnet’s Wayne Scanlan, head coach D.J. Smith revealed that eight to nine Ottawa players are currently dealing with the flu. Practice was canceled on Monday before their Tuesday road game against the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

Star defenseman Thomas Chabot revealed that he even lost 13 pounds over just one day battling the flu. Per Scanlan.

Chabot and fellow blueliner Nikita Zaitsev were sidelined for the team’s 2-1 home loss against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. The loss to the Habs ended Ottawa’s four-game homestand.

The Senators will conclude their five-game road trip against the St. Louis Blues next Tuesday (8:00 p.m. EST) before returning to the nation’s capital for a five-game homestand.

Sens, Canadian Tire Centre Lifting Proof Of Vaccination Requirement For Fans

Fans who wish to attend Ottawa home games at the Canadian Tire Centre will no longer have to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19.

The lifting of this mandate went into effect on Mar. 1. Many of the province’s COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted. Among them: includes the proof of vaccination requirement for indoor places like gyms, restaurants and sporting events.

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In a statement, the Senators announced that the vaccination mandate will stay in place “for all full-time and part-time employees until further notice.”

Fans at Canadian Tire Centre will still be required to wear masks except when they’re eating or drinking.

As of two weeks ago, the plan was for capacity restrictions at large indoor events to be lifted by Mar. 14. If that happens, the Maple Leafs, Senators and NBA’s Toronto Raptors will be permitted to welcome full capacity at their home venues.

The Senators are 10-6-2 at the Canadian Tire Centre this season, Due to capacity limits, the

team has averaged just 6,878 fans per game, per according to ESPN’s NHL attendance figures.

The Maple Leafs, who are traditionally near the very top in attendance, rank 22nd this season with an average of 13,922 fans per game. They sat fourth in attendance two years ago before the season was shut down indefinitely due to the pandemic.

Unlike the Senators, Toronto has been ultra-dominant at home, posting a 19-5-1 record at the Scotiabank Arena.

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