January 25, 2010
Monster ready to make run
By LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency
For a 25-year-old rookie, Jonas Gustavsson had the world-weary look of a 25-year veteran after Saturday's game against the Florida Panthers.
He's one shy of 30 NHL games, with a groin injury, two heart ablations and eight overtime losses to go along with his 9-11-8 record.
In the 2-0 loss Saturday, he had made the big save coach Ron Wilson said had been lacking in his two goalies, perfectly gliding across on a 2-on-1, leaving Florida's Michael Frolik staring up in disbelief at the empty top bowl of the BankAtlantic Center.
But one unfortunate backboard rebound and a teammate's turnover added up to another close defeat, on the heels of his eighth overtime loss.
"You have to step up and do your best, but sometimes it's not enough," Gustavsson said.
But this time, it's unlikely the past two results will be held against him. Coach Ron Wilson has already said he'll ramp up Gustavsson's workload now that the schedule is spreading out toward the Olympic break. That should mean the start on Tuesday at home against the Los Angeles Kings.
"It's frustrating when we don't win, but you can't feel sorry about yourself, you move on and try and win the next game," Gustavsson said. "Last couple of games, I've felt very comfortable and the team has helped me on rebounds. It feels like I'm getting more used to the size and the angles (in the smaller NHL rinks), but I still have much to learn."
Gustavsson was well aware of Wilson's vote of confidence.
"It's always good when a coach says something like that, but I know in the end that it's up to me to play good. No matter what's said, it's the goalie who plays well who gets the (starts)."
Tuesday won't be an easy assignment for either Gustavsson or Vesa Toskala. These aren't the old rudderless Kings. They can score and are currently in a playoff spot. This will be Toronto's first home game since a 1-3-1 road trip that torpedoed playoff hopes and the crowd won't be in a forgiving mood if another opponent that's turned the corner on rebuilding comes in and pushed the Leafs around.