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Maple Leafs' Hutchinson to Start Friday vs. Sharks, Kase Returns to Practice

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Michael Hutchinson will get the nod in goal when the team hosts the San Jose Sharks in the first of back-to-back games for the club.

Michael Hutchinson will make his season debut when the Toronto Maple Leafs host the San Jose Sharks on Friday night.

Hutchinson joined the team for practice earlier this week when he was called up on an emergency basis to replace goaltender Petr Mrazek (groin) in the lineup.

With the Leafs getting ready to play games on back-to-back nights, Jack Campbell will get the nod in goal on Saturday when they take the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena.

"We're trying to put Hutchinson in a place to succeed, Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. "And we thought coming off a practice day right into a gameday tomorrow is a good day for him to do that."

The start on Friday will mark Hutchinson's fourth consecutive season in which he has made at least one start in goal for the Maple Leafs. He was routinely thrown to the wolves as a backup to former Toronto starting goaltender Frederik Andersen. Then head coach Mike Babcock almost exclusively started his backup goaltender on the second night of back-to-back game days. When Keefe took over as head coach, he changed that method. The most notable difference was during the 2020-'21 season when backup Campbell made the start in goal on Jan. 24 against the Calgary Flames. 

The Maple Leafs had the previous day off.

Giving Campbell the second night of the back-to-back ensures another day of rest as the team looks to manage his workload after missing large stretches of last season due to injury.

"As we saw when we came out of a game the other night, just managing his workload a little better," Keefe said of Campbell. 

This week, the Leafs have had York University goaltender Brendan Bonello skate as an extra goaltender with Campbell getting most of Tuesday's practice off.

Hutchinson's backup workout routine

In a video posted on BarDown's YouTube channel, Campbell revealed that Hutchinson works out between periods of games. On Tuesday, Hutchinson explained the idea for and how it started back in his days with the Winnipeg Jets where he made a lot of relief appearances. 

"Imagine sitting in a car ride for two hours without moving and then trying to run sprints," Hutchinson explained.

In talking with the Leafs' strength and training staff, Hutchinson is experimenting this season with working out in half of his gear rather than doing all of his strength workouts after the game.

Already down a goaltender on the depth chart, the hope for the Leafs is that the team doesn't reap any of the benefits of Hutchinson coming into a game in relief as opposed to a scheduled start.

On Oct. 17, Keefe announced that Mrazek would miss at least 14 days with a groin injury he suffered in the second period of a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 14.

Kase bouncing back from injuries

Ondrej Kase returned to practice on Thursday after he missed Tuesday's session to recover from a shot block early in the first period of the team's 2-1 overtime loss to the New York Rangers on Monday.

"Everything was good and I felt better on the ice (today), Kase said. "Better than I thought."

Kase has been on the receiving end of some hard hits along the boards, something he's admitted comes from being one of the smaller players combined with his speed. But his ability to bounce right back and show no ill effects is a positive sign that his previous concussion issues may be a thing of the past.

"First game, I got that one hit and I was like 'hey, I feel very good,'" Kase said.

Kase returned to skate on a line with Alex Kerfoot and David Kampf, but he was removed from the team's second power-play unit in favour of Pierre Engvall.

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