All in vain for Vesa

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:55 AM ET

OTTAWA -- Vesa Toskala hopes he has ended the Maple Leafs' game-day goalie guessing game for at least another 48 hours.

While not dominating last night in Ottawa, he made 26 saves in his debut, weathered eight of 10 power plays against a potent Senators team and the odd positional gaffe aside,looked the part of a No. 1.

There appeared to be a non-confidence motion in Toskala by coach Paul Maurice earlier in the week, one that might have reflected badly on general manager John Ferguson's trading acumen.

Maurice went with Andrew Raycroft for the season-opening 4-3 loss to the Senators, perhaps fearing a public backlash if the team's new acquisition was torched by the high-octane Sens on home ice.

But before last night's game, Ferguson repeated the party line that both goalies have equal standing, even though Toskala cost a lot on draft picks and will soon take up twice the room on the financial books.

"I brought both of them in,'' Ferguson said.

"We're a team of two goalies, six defencemen and 12 forwards. Paul and I discuss a lot of things before a game, we strategize. But the starting goalie is the coach's call.''

When Toskala came off the ice at the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday morning with a Finnish reporter, and saw about 30 media types waiting to ask him about Raycroft's start, his mutterings probably translated into: "Book me on the eight o'clock to Helsinki."

Raycroft has come through a year of struggles as Toronto's tortured goalie with his sense of humour intact, while Toskala still has that deer-in-the-headlights look when the cameras roll.

But Ferguson isn't worried about the former San Jose Sharks backup getting too overwhelmed.

"These guys are goalkeepers and athletes first and media personalities second,'' he said.

"He'll figure it out as time goes on and get better at handling it.''

Of course, if one or the other had been more sharp in camp, the topic might have gone away until early November when two sets of back-to-back games would have necessitated using the second man.

"I just hope it gets better and better for me from here,'' Toskala said.

LANCE.HORNBY@SUNMEDIA.CA

"I JUST HOPE IT GETS BETTER AND BETTER FOR ME FROM HERE."

VESA TOSKALA


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