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Maple Leafs’ Rittich impresses under challenging circumstances


TORONTO — It had been 20 years since an NHL goalie was acquired in a commerce and made his first begin with the brand new workforce towards his outdated workforce.

So it’s protected to imagine nobody has ever skilled 48 hours fairly like these.

David Rittich not solely flew into the brand new metropolis on a constitution together with his former Calgary Flames teammates, however he met many of the Toronto Maple Leafs simply hours earlier than enjoying behind them… in a sport towards Calgary.

Disorienting barely even begins to explain how that felt after 130 appearances within the flaming ‘C.’ There was sufficient time to use some blue tape on the entrance of his pads, however you can nonetheless see the purple on the again of them.

“[The strangest moment came] within the first interval after I bought frightened of a participant in a blue jersey,” stated Rittich. “That was most likely the weirdest factor that would occur to me.”

Massive Save Dave performed extremely properly underneath the circumstances, significantly once you issue within the 9 days between begins with the distinctiveness of the state of affairs. He delivered a few key stops to assist the Leafs safe a degree earlier than Johnny Gaudreau sealed a 3-2 Flames victory in time beyond regulation.

Sheldon Keefe provided him the prospect to start out with the Leafs finishing a back-to-back and desirous to relaxation Jack Campbell. Rittich jumped at it. There isn’t the good thing about an easing-in interval in a compacted season like this one, and we’re certain to see a few different new Leafs thrust immediately within the hearth right here quickly following a busy commerce deadline for Kyle Dubas.

Rittich managed to keep away from quarantine by leaping immediately from one Canadian bubble to a different, which explains why it was price enduring some pleasant chirps whereas hitching a experience to Toronto with the Flames. He was acquired for a third-round decide on Sunday night time, flew in Monday night time and located himself getting snowed by Matthew Tkachuk right here on Tuesday night time.

“Clearly it was a tricky one, proper?” stated Rittich. “I performed towards my outdated workforce the place I used to be for 4 years and I’ve bought some life buddies there. So it was a tricky one.

“The even worse factor of it’s we misplaced in time beyond regulation.”

The Leafs nonetheless have a seven-point lead over Winnipeg within the North Division with 13 video games to play. Assuming they keep a cushty benefit, Keefe appears inclined to utilize some newfound roster flexibility to get relaxation for veterans and discover alternatives for others down the stretch.

On Tuesday that meant giving journeyman Scott Sabourin his Leafs debut instead of 37-year-old Jason Spezza, who’s nursing some bumps and bruises. Maybe there will probably be alternatives to spell off veterans like Joe Thornton, Wayne Simmonds or Zach Bogosian for a sport or two within the coming weeks.

“We’ll see the way it goes,” stated Keefe, not referencing any of these gamers immediately. “We’ll take it a day and a sport at a time, however that’s my considering, sure. Each our roster and wage cap state of affairs are completely different right here now so we expect that’s going to current us some alternatives that we haven’t had up till this level.

“So, yeah, we are going to look to try this all through.”

There have been instances earlier within the yr when the Leafs couldn’t recall a participant due to how it could affect their capacity to handle the cap. These points dissipated when Fredrik Andersen was positioned on long-term injured reserve over the weekend.

Quickly Keefe will probably be flush with choices, and he’s a coach that likes to make use of each useful resource at his disposal.

Nick Foligno and Ben Hutton have began serving seven-day quarantines in Toronto after being acquired in trades and are as a result of meet the workforce in Winnipeg subsequent week. William Nylander can be anticipated to be cleared from the NHL’s COVID-19 Protocol record within the coming days and will make the street journey as properly.

There actually isn’t time to carve out a particular area of interest for everybody earlier than the video games really begin to matter within the playoffs, so preserving an open thoughts goes to be vital. In that approach Rittich set an instance at Scotiabank Enviornment throughout his Leafs debut, making a robust first impression underneath difficult circumstances.

“I believed he regarded actually good within the web,” stated Keefe. “I’m positive it’s a tough night time for him.”

“Loves to talk. Very talkative within the room early on and settling in properly,” added captain John Tavares. “I imply that’s fairly the circumstances within the final 48 hours for him.”

It’s an thrilling time for Leafs new and outdated.

The message despatched from Dubas throughout a busy buying and selling interval the place he added with out subtracting any regulars from the lineup reverberated via the dressing room.

“I imply it exhibits that we’re all in right here,” stated ahead Alexander Kerfoot. “That they’re doing the whole lot they’ll to prime us for a playoff run. We’ve simply bought to do our half.

“Clearly there’s nothing extra administration can do at this level, it’s all on us.”

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