SAN JOSE — The Toronto Maple Leafs breathed a sigh of relief on Thursday as David Kampf rejoined his teammates on the ice for practice, a sign he may have come out unscathed from a hit to the head by Los Angeles Kings forward Rasmus Kupari on Wednesday.
“Yeah, it seems that way,” Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said. “It was a good day for him. We’ll just see how he is tomorrow when he wakes up comes to the rink.”
Kampf was removed from the team’s 6-2 win against the Kings at 1:38 of the first period. The team announced before the second period commenced that the defensive forward was out for the remainder of the game for precautionary reasons.
Kampf’s linemate, Ondrej Kase, was the only skater to sit out of Thursday’s practice before the team takes on the San Jose Sharks.
“Maintenance day is what we’d call it for today but we’ll see how he is in the morning,” Keefe said.
Keefe didn’t specify any injury that kept Kase from participating at practice, but his aggressive play has certainly left a lot of wear-and-tear on the forward. On offense, he is typically seen crashing the net while blocking shots on the defensive end of the ice.
In the event Kase cannot play, the Leafs would likely slot Kirill Semyonov on the fourth line. They experimented with a new look at practice that saw Simmonds move up into Kase’s spot on the third line.
Kampf has been lauded by Keefe for his contribution to the team as a true defensive checking center. A staple on the third line, Keefe has deployed Kampf’s line for a bulk load of the team’s defensive-zone starts. His confidence in Kampf has allowed for him to rest centers Auston Matthews and John Tavares for a few more shifts against tougher line combinations within the game.
“He’s been unbelievable for us all year long,” Matthews said of Kampf. “Being able to play against some of the top guys, producing some big plays that led to some big goals.
Kase has played in all but one game alongside Kampf on the third line. He has five goals and three assists in 21 games this season.
Woll to start against Sharks
Starting goaltender Jack Campbell took the day off from practice as the team continues to monitor his load management. Since Petr Mrazek was shut down with a groin injury on Nov. 7, Campbell has started in every game for the Maple Leafs with the exception of two games that have come on the latter end of back-to-back nights.
The Leafs will break that sequence with Woll getting the nod on Friday.
“We felt it’s important to find him opportunities, to take a day like today (off),” Keefe said of Campbell. “It’s not so much just missing the game tomorrow. But take a day, like today, an additional day, what can that do for his body and mind and all of that.”
Among goaltenders who have played in at least 10 games this season, Campbell has the best save percentage (.943) and goals-against average (1.68).
Mrazek took part in practice with the Leafs for the second time since his injury and took part in the full 30-minute session. The timeline was for a minimum of four weeks, which puts the week after the next as the target for his return.
Getting Ritchie on track
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nick Ritchie has yet to score a goal this season. But with the team on a heater with 12 victories in their last 14 games, it seems they will continue to be patient.
Ritchie signed a two-year, $5 million contract in July and he came off a career-high 15 goals in 56 games with the Boston Bruins.
On Wednesday, his teammates were singing his praise after his screened Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick that allowed for Jason Spezza’s goal in the second period.
“I think it just shows that his teammates care about him and they appreciate who he is and what he does to our team and he brings value to us, ” Keefe said. “He’s capable of it. And I believe strongly that once he does score, things will open up for him. I think he’s a guy who’s got the capability to score big goals for us at big times. I think that’s going to come.”
At the end of practice, Keefe spent some one-on-one time with Ritchie working on some drills around the net and he found the information insightful.
“Just to change the angle on your shot and little thing that might help in scoring a few goals,” Ritchie said.