Shutouts a thing of the past for Leafs?

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

SUNRISE, Fla. — During a magical playoff run last spring, Jonas Gustavsson had five shutouts with Farjestads of the Swedish Elite League.

When his current coach, Ron Wilson, was running things with the San Jose Sharks, his netminders sometimes hit double digit shutouts in a single season.

With the Maple Leafs though, a goose egg on the opponent has become almost as rare as a no-hitter in baseball.

The most recent time the Leafs recorded a shutout was October 17, 2008, and fitting with the team’s travails in recent times, they didn’t even win that game.

Vesa Toskala made team history that night at Madison Square Garden when he shut out the New York Rangers yet regulation ended in a 0-0 draw and the Leafs lost in a shootout.

That was the fourth game of the season and the Leafs hit 101 games without a shutout Wednesday night across the state in Tampa.

“I know there haven’t been a lot of shutouts for the Leafs for a while, but that’s an overall indication for the team,” Wilson said Thursday as his team prepared to meet the Panthers Friday.

“It’s nice (when you do get one.) You feel really different if you can get a shutout but to do so you have to limit the other team to 10 scoring chances or less.”

The Leafs have had much more to worry about than blanking their opponent as they work to climb out of the NHL basement. But every other team in the league has had at least one shutout since the Leafs did the trick and some have had bunches.

While a goaltender with a hot hand can certainly make it happen on his own, Gustavsson acknowledged Thursday it also takes a generous dose of luck.

“It’s weird, but sometimes it is like that,” Gustavsson said of his incredible five shutouts in 13 playoff games which only heightened the appeal of his many NHL suitors in the off-season. “You go out and play and you feel like everything is coming to you and it’s going to hit you.

“I think at this level, every team you play against is so good that you have to have a couple bounces go with you. You get play pretty well one night and let four or five goals in and the next night you play pretty much the same and you get a shutout.”

Current Leafs backup Joey MacDonald knows that feeling from his lone career NHL shutout which came last season when he was with the New York Islanders. MacDonald shut out the Red Wings in Detroit for the most memorable moment of his career to date.

“There were three or four goalposts but that’s part of the game too,” MacDonald said. “Some games you battle so hard and the puck goes in, other nights it’s hitting the post.

“But when you do get one, it’s great for your confidence. It gets your momentum going and it’s great for the team.”

As one of the league’s more suspect defensive teams, the Leafs have only yielded less than two goals twice this season. Ironically, they have been against two of the NHL’s more potent teams — Washington and Detroit.

“We should have had a shutout against the Red Wings (in a 5-1 in which Gustavsson stopped 27 of 28 shots),” Wilson said. “They had one chance and buried it.”


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