Leafs aim to gather momentum

Toronto Maple Leafs' Jonas Gustavsson and Frederik Sjostromcelebrate their win against the...

Toronto Maple Leafs' Jonas Gustavsson and Frederik Sjostromcelebrate their win against the Nashville Predators. (REUTERS/Mike Cassese)

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:17 PM ET

TORONTO - Now that the Maple Leafs have finally put a spike in their first serious losing streak, the success of the rest of the season depends on their ability to do the reverse.

The past few years have been marred by multiple lengthy slumps that leave the team too much to do when the points seem to mean more toward the end of the season. The recently completed eight-game slide wasnt as bad as some weve seen, but the damage has been done.

In terms of length, it matched the one the Leafs opened last season with and was encroaching on some of the worst in team history.

But twice the team lost in a shootout and three other times the Leafs ran into hot goaltenders, who pitched a shutout.

On the other hand, the four-game win streak to start the season was longer than anything the Leafs could put together in 2009-10. Twice they managed three game win streaks and two more times won four of five last season, but none of those runs were a true hot streak.

With the New Jersey Devils up next on Thursday night at the Air Canada Centre before a trip to Montreal for a Saturday night game against the Habs, gathering momentum is the next step in righting the ship.

Meanwhile, the team will have to do so with Jonas Gustavsson as the No. 1 goalie for at least a handful of games as J-S Giguere recovers from what the team announced Wednesday is a minor groin strain.

Giguere had to leave with 13:10 remaining in Tuesdays 5-4 win over Nashville and after being evaluated by doctors will be sidelined for the next week or two.

Gustavsson came on in relief and made a couple of huge saves against the Nashville Predators to preserve the win.

Its 1 and 1-A, coach Ron Wilson said of the teams goaltending depth chart. Weve gone a little bit more with Jiggy, but I see no reason why Jonas cant establish himself here.

As for Gustavsson, hes looking forward to the opportunity to establish himself as a legit NHL starter.

You cant think too much or you go crazy, Gustavsson said. Im looking forward to the game (Thursday) and well see what happens.

Of course, you want to play but I dont want Jiggy to be out of the lineup that long either.

MacArthur spark

With a three-assist night on Tuesday, Clarke MacArthur increased his team scoring lead to 16 points (seven goals, nine assists.)

As youve heard often by now, the book on MacArthur is his scoring touch starts to disappear once the snow starts to fly.

MacArthur isnt buying it however as he already feels more comfortable than he did in previous stints with Buffalo and Atlanta.

I just think I have the confidence, said MacArthur, who is almost half way to the career high 35 points he recorded last season. Im getting an opportunity to play and Im playing with good linemates. The last three years Ive been fighting confidence the whole year playing second line then third or fourth line.

By the end of the season you dont even know what kind of a player you are. If you can stay on the top lines you can stay consistent and build confidence.

Catching Kadri

Two games into his promotion to the NHL from the Marlies, Nazem Kadris play has gravitated more to steady than spectacular, which is just fine by the Leafs.

After an over-hyped and under-achieving pre-season, the London, Ont. native has settled in nicely.

Kadri recorded his first career NHL point on Tuesday while logging a healthy 19 minutes and 54 seconds. Wilson shuffled the lines in-game and had Kadri on a line with Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak, a trio the rookie feels plays to his strengths.

Perhaps more importantly, he is plus-one despite the fact the team has given up nine goals in the two games he has played.

Ive gotten my feet wet a little bit and Im playing with some pretty good players so its a lot easier, Kadri said Wednesday, after spending 20 minutes after practice working on his shot. My game is based on speed and using my feet so its a good match. When I start to struggle, its when I dont move my feet as much.


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