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Leafs coach Keefe keeps faith in Freddy

Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen turns away a shot during practice on Wednesday. Andersen will get the start in the rematch against Pittsburgh on Thursday night in Toronto. (Jack Boland/Toronto Sun)
Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen turns away a shot during practice on Wednesday. Andersen will get the start in the rematch against Pittsburgh on Thursday night in Toronto. (Jack Boland/Toronto Sun)

Critics might be urging him to think twice, but Sheldon Keefe had no hesitation naming Frederik Andersen as Thursday’s starting goaltender.

“It’s fairly obvious he’s our guy,” said the coach. “He’s coming off an injury (a stiff neck that preceded three straight losses) and we need to get him back going. And boy, this team’s at its best when Fred’s at his best.”

So much for Keefe listening to those who want Jack Campbell elevated from back-up to No. 1, based on a small sample size.

“Soupy’s come in and we’ve had confidence in the games he’s played,” said Keefe, “but this (a back-to-back versus the Penguins with pride and playoff ramifications on the line) is a whole different situation, a whole different level of competition.”

Not that Andersen should be excused for a couple of goals in Pittsburgh, one where he spoon fed Sidney Crosby the puck and other gaffes against Buffalo and Dallas.

“I have more to give,” said Andersen. “That’s my focus, to try and get back to my level, help the team out, give them confidence. We’ll feed off each other.

“The group is excited about the workout today. These lessons (from Pittsburgh) aren’t very pleasant, but they’re important.”

During a break in practice, Andersen and veteran centre Jason Spezza were seen in high spirits.

“Fred’s great, Fred gets it,” said Spezza. “I talk to him all the time. He’s a very competitive guy and we all want to get things turned around here.”

lhornby@postmedia.com

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