Rick Zamperin: Michael Hutchinson can't mask Maple Leafs' defensive warts
So, I think we can all agree that Michael Hutchinson is not an NHL goalie, right?
That, in essence, was what I tweeted Wednesday night after the Toronto Maple Leafs netminder allowed three consecutive goals in 79 seconds in the second period of a 4-3 loss against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena.
So... we can all agree that Hutchinson is not an #NHL goalie, right? #Leafs
- Rick Zamperin (@rickzamperin) October 17, 2019
Too harsh? Perhaps, given that Toronto was playing on back-to-back nights while the Caps were at home and coming off enjoying a full day's rest.
But it is a question Leafs brass will be asking themselves - at least, they should be asking themselves - given the club's propensity to forget about the defensive side of the game.
Fresh off a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night, the Maple Leafs played a great first period against the Caps - save for allowing a goal by Jakub Vrana with 1:01 remaining in the opening frame.
The second period, however, was all Washington.
Goals by Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson turned a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead for the Capitals and clearly rattled Hutchinson.
It wasn't entirely Hutchinson's fault that Toronto fell in D.C. because the players in front of him didn't play well enough in the defensive zone.
But while the 29-year-old Barrie native was able to settle down following Washington's outburst, he was incapable of making a big save when the Caps were mounting their offensive.
Starting goalie Frederik Andersen is able to mask some of Toronto's defensive warts with his stellar play, and unless the Maple Leafs get a better performance from their backup puck stopper, they will have to rely on Freddie more than they'd like to.
That will have an impact come playoff time - and not a good one.
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