The Toronto Maple Leafs are 9-5-1 and have banked a number of valuable points in the early going. However, a 5-1 loss to the Florida Panthers on the heels of a 7-0 shellacking by the Bruins is quickly taking the gloss off of the nice start. Combine the mini-slump which has seen the team outscored 13-1 over the past seven periods with James Reimer being out for the foreseeable future and even the notoriously placid Ford Prefect would suggest that Leafs fans might have cause to raise their eyebrows slightly.
LEAFS HEALTHY GOALIES
|2011 - Jonas Gustavsson||9||460||4||4||∞||29||3.78||237||208||.878||0|
2011 - Ben Scrivens
|2011 - Ben Scrivens||3||118||1||1||A FEW||8||4.07||60||52||.867||0|
That is a stark vision of what faces the Maple Leafs until the second coming. Ben Scrivens, in his three appearances, has not had the benefit of a strong Maple Leafs' performance. His first game seemed like a revelation, and it might still eventually be seen as a sign that he belongs in the NHL, but his last two appearances have had the lethal combination of an error-filled performance by the team and an overawed kid. He'd obviously benefit from more time in the AHL as the fum total of 46 games of professional hockey and only 33 at the AHL level.
Gustavsson, on the other hand, has 74 games of .896 save percentage and 3.10 goals against average hockey at the NHL level. I'm not sure that I would have expected any different but quotations like this one:
"It was just one of those nights where you don't get the bounces," Gustavsson said. "You know everything just hits the post, deflects, bounces back and forth. Overall I felt pretty good."
do not inspire much confidence that Gustavsson will be able to identify the areas of his game that require work in order to improve. Tonight was a microcosm of his NHL career to date: He played pretty well, made a few nice saves, suffered a bit of a bad break (Kulemin knocking Gus before Skille's goal was unfortunate), and then a massive brain cramp. As usual, after the second goal which came as a result of his inept wandering, this led to another quick goal which effectively ended the game as a contest.
Unfortunately, Brian Burke, having entered the season (yet again) without a backup plan for his starting goalie, will likely not be able to address this hole in the team quickly. While the Leafs were scoring seemingly at will Gustavsson was winning games. While this fooled the dimwitted like Nick Kypreos and Doug MacLean - who tonight insisted that playing Scrivens against Boston was a mistake because Gustavsson had `just been winning games' and the change shattered his confidence - but Leafs fans with a clue could see the possibility of this problem at the onset of the summer.
Call backs were made to the summer of Gustavsson's arrival when Burke decided to go with Vesa Toskala, coming off of major off-season surgery, and The Monster, in his first season in the NHL, without bringing in a third option. The end result: the Leafs finished 29th. If that happens this year, at least the Leafs will have their draft pick. Does this sound like Chicken Little saying the sky is falling? Sure, there's a lot that could happen with the goalie position to shore it up: Burke could make a move or James Reimer could walk through that door. But what about Burke's track record makes you think he'll get it done? Or that Gustavsson will magically become an average goaltender and give the Leafs a chance to win? I hope either one happens but the odds aren't good.
Anyway, here are highlights of the Leafs' last two games.