|It will take more than Fredrik Sjostrom to block Jonas Gustavsson from getting back to the net Thursday night versus St. Louis. The Monster said coach Ron Wilson gave him the nod. (Craig Robertson/QMI AGENCY)
TORONTO - Jonas Gustavsson will be back in net for the Maple Leafs on Thursday night at the Air Canada Centre — if you can believe it.
Gustavsson (5-12-2, 3.04 GAA) will replace James Reimer (1-1-0, 1.35 GAA) who made back-to-back starts and was in goal for Toronto’s 2-1 home loss to the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night.
Reimer was told by Leafs head coach Ron Wilson prior to that game not to tell media he would be starting, and it was reported that Gustavsson would man the net. When Gustavsson told media after Thursday’s morning skate that he was getting the call against the St. Louis Blues (20-13-5), some media jokingly asked if he would be in trouble with Wilson for saying so.
“You never know, maybe I tell you something and something else is going to happen. So, I don’t know if you can trust me,” Gustavsson joked.
“But this is a big game for us tonight,” said the Swede, returning to business. “We’ve got a tough road trip coming up, and it would be great to start the road trip with a win tonight.”
After tonight’s tilt, which marks the 3,000 home game in franchise history, Toronto (14-20-4) heads out of town to play the Atlanta Thrashers and three Western Conference teams, so its important to grab two points and leave for the trip with some momentum.
“The one thing about Jonas is, he’ll battle for us every night,” Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn said. “It doesn’t matter what the score is or how the game is going, or what the record shows, he’s going to come to play for us every night. He’s got a great work ethic and between him and Jiggy (J-S Giguere), those are the two goalies of all time I’ve seen who hate getting scored on, even in practice.”
The Blues have more or less had their way with Toronto in recent times. St. Louis is 8-0-2 in its previous 10 meeting with the Leafs, including a 4-0 victory in their only game last season. Former Leafs Alex Steen and Carlo Colaiacovo will be in town with the Blues. Steen played 253 games with Toronto and leads St. Louis with 13 goals this season. He has nine goals and seven assists in his past 16 games. Colaiacovo, a defenceman, played 111 games with the Leafs.
Leafs forward Tim Brent on the disappointment Canada’s junior squad must be feeling after blowing a 3-0 lead to lose 5-3 to Russia in the gold-medal game on Wednesday night: “Unfortunately, I know a little too well. When I played (2004, in Finland) we lost to the Americans. We we’re up 3-1 going into the third and lost 4-3. My heart goes out to those guys.”
Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn, whose younger brother Brayden played for Canada, on the loss to Russia: “I spoke him after the game, not much you could save obviously … It’s even more devastating and tough to take when you have a brother on the team, and two years in a row he fell short.”