November 3, 2011
Scrivens stellar in debutLeafs rookie stops 38 shots in win
By TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency
COLUMBUS - Back in training camp, James Reimer made an interesting observation.
Speaking about Ben Scrivens, who was in the midst of an excellent camp, Reimer said: “I think he is a great goalie and probably has more skill than I do. It’s definitely possible to pay your dues (with the Toronto Marlies) and when you get your chance you make the most of it. He is a goalie with that capability.”
With Reimer not yet ready to dress on Thursday night, Scrivens demonstrated those abilities in his NHL debut with 38 saves in a 4-1 Maple Leafs victory at Nationwide Arena against the reeling Columbus Blue Jackets.
“You want to make a good first impression and hopefully I did that,” Scrivens said. “The shot chart might have been deceiving because they threw everything (including) from the corners.”
Scrivens was told by coach Ron Wilson in the morning that he would start. But there were no nerves on his part — he went back to the team hotel, had a nap, read some of the book Scorecasting, and stayed hydrated. In other words, another day at the office.
“The game is the same, really,” Scrivens said. “Guys are still shooting pucks at you, just that they are coming a little quicker. I know my routine (on game day). I don’t get too crazy, and I am not a superstitious guy.”
Jonas Gustavsson backed up, and Reimer, who continues to recover from concussion-like symptoms, was held out. In a physical stamina sense, Reimer is not ready to play, Wilson said.
Scrivens was 4-1-0 with the Marlies, sporting a .908 save percentage and a 2.41 goals-against average. Wilson said during camp that Scrivens appeared to ready to play in the NHL, but required more experience in the minors.
“We do believe he is going to be a big-time goalie, and he showed that tonight,” Wilson said. “He is economical in his moves and he has a lot of poise. They are a team that gets a lot of traffic, and with big forwards crashing the net, he withstood that well.”
Clarke MacArthur scored two goals for the Leafs, giving him six in five games. Joey Crabb and John-Michael Liles, with his first as a Leaf, also scored for Toronto.
The Leafs, who won by more than two goals for the first time this season, improved to 9-3-1.
They benefited from a bad night by Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason, who was pulled after giving up four goals on 11 shots. The Leafs finished with just 18 shots on a team that has won two games, and victory or not, that’s not a great sign.
“We scored awfully easy,” Wilson said. “We’re going to have to play a lot better than we did when we play the Bruins (at home on Saturday).
“At the moment, we’re first overall in the league and that is quite an accomplishment for our team. We are padding the points and we are going to have hard times at some point. We have to make hay while the sun is shining.”
As he did on Wednesday night in New Jersey in his first game of the season, Crabb opened the scoring. He took a pretty feed from Joffrey Lupul and fired a wrist shot behind Mason at 6:09 of the first period.
MacArthur made it 2-0 when his wrist shot from a bad angle eluded Mason, and it was 3-0 at the 50-second mark of the second when Liles skated in from the point and beat Mason with a weak shot.
Before MacArthur, who was playing in his 300th NHL game, scored the goal that ended the evening for Mason, the beleaguered netminder was derisively cheered each time he made a routine save.
MacArthur acknowledged he “felt bad” for Mason, but, of course, MacArthur was more interested in his own goalie.
“He was really calm for his first game,” MacArthur said. “He looked really relaxed. If that was me, I would have been uptight.”
Rookie Ryan Johansen ruined Scrivens’ shutout bid when he stuffed the puck into the net at 11:20 of the second period.
The comfort zone for Scrivens was evident as he moved across the crease to continuously frustrate the Blue Jackets. He had to be on top of his game, as the Leafs, possibly tired after arriving at their hotel in the early morning hours, were outplayed.
Scrivens said his best save of the night was on Kris Russell in the first period.
“I was able to come across and stay big with my elbow,” Scrivens said. “That one gave me a lot of confidence.”
Did Scrivens do enough in one game to grease the wheels on a goaltending controversy in Toronto? It would probably be a stretch to say that. Gustavsson has been improving and Reimer, when he returns, is going to resume his role as the No. 1 guy.
“Not my job to worry about that,” Scrivens said. “My job was to worry about what I had to do out there and I did my job.”