Leafs used to have goalie stability

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:27 AM ET

At least they didn't ask The Monster if he preferred boxers or briefs.

That may have been one of the few questions not thrown at rookie Jonas Gustavsson yesterday morning after it had been revealed that he would make his first NHL start later in the day against the Ottawa Senators.

Shouldn't you have to play at least a couple of weeks before a goaltending controversy busts out? Obviously not here in Toronto, where one already seems to have been created, with Gustavsson's popularity swelling and Vesa Toskala's plummeting.

"Fan favourite? I don't think I've played enough to be one yet," Gustavsson said. "I think it's all because (of the media)."

Maybe. At the same time, it is easy to see why The Monster is being hailed as a saviour by Leafs Nation, as premature as it might be.

Simply put, Toronto has been a goaltending graveyard since the lockout of 2004-05.

J.S. Aubin. Justin Pogge. Martin Gerber. The list goes on and on.

It wasn't always that way.

When Tomas Kaberle broke in with the Leafs in 1998, he went to the playoffs for six consecutive seasons. During that time, the Leafs were backstopped by just two starting goalies -- Curtis Joseph and Ed Belfour.

Good goaltending equals post-season berths. For the pre-lockout Leafs, that was the recipe for success.

"It's always nice to have regular goalies like that," Kaberle said. "You knew they would be steady every year. They got here when they were older and had lots of experience. Obviously Eddie had won the Cup and he knew what it took.

"Both were great guys, on and off the ice."

After the lockout, it has been a different story. Gustavsson is the 10th goaltender used by the Leafs since the start of the 2005-06 season. In that time, the Leafs have made zero playoff appearances.

That's no coincidence.

Will Gustavsson change that trend? Or will it be Toskala? Or even Joey MacDonald?

Whatever the case, without stability between the pipes Toronto's post-season drought will continue.

MIKE.ZEISBERGER@SUNMEDIA.CA


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