January 18, 2011
Leafs' Monster set to raid New YorkGustavsson pushes away the pressure
By LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Jonas Gustavsson did not sound like a goalie under pressure on Tuesday as the Maple Leafs headed to New York City.
He is getting the start against the Rangers, which will be closely monitored after James Reimer played well enough to be considered a full-time NHLer and Jean-Sebastien Giguere came back from a month off with a groin injury and did well in a 2-1 shootout loss.
Gustavsson needs to remind the Leafs and the fans what he can do — and that he has made some progress during the second season of his maturation process.
“It’s not frustrating,” he insisted of sitting the past five games. “If someone had told me at the start of this year that I was going to have played half the games in the first half of the season. I’d have been happy.”
Gustavsson was supposed to get in one game for every two that Giguere started, before the latter’s groin issue. Gustavsson’s record of 6-12-2, an .896 save percentage and a dearth of offensive support in many of his starts led to Reimer getting a turn.
“The season is long and anything can happen,” Gustavsson cautioned.
Giguere goes back in against Anaheim at the Air Canada Centre on Thursday.
NEW YORK VS. NEW YORK
Leafs defenceman Mike Komisarek gets fired up for any game involving the Rangers. He was born in West Islip, N.Y., firmly in Islanders territory.
“My Dad (an auto body shop owner) used to fix our dentist’s car and he’d give us some of his Islanders season’s tickets as payment,” Komisarek said. “When the Rangers came in, there would be fights on the ice and so many fights in the stands, that the players would turn around and watch the crowd. What can you say? It’s like Toronto-Montreal.”
As of Tuesday morning, the Leafs had been short-handed the fewest times of any team in the NHL, 138, compared to Pittsburgh’s 194. Rather than take it as a compliment, coach Ron Wilson lashed out at those who criticized his penalty-killing unit early in the season, when it was back near the bottom of the league.
But Wilson did say he is proud that his club has not balked much at the officials this season — “that’s one of the most selfish penalties you can take” — and is pleased his team has been assessed only two bench minors thus far.
First-line winger Nikolai Kulemin was absent from practice on Tuesday. He was just under the weather according to Wilson and he should be able to play in New York ... Mike Brown, about to serve the second of his three-game league suspension, took Kulemin’s spot at practice on the line with Mikhail Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur. Brown, who gave a head shot to Phoenix defenceman Ed Jovanovski on Thursday, was joined on the sidelines Tuesday by Scott Nichol of the Sharks, who got four games for a blow to the head of the Coyotes’ David Schlemko on Monday ... Tomas Kaberle ranked third in the league in power-play assists with 19 before Tuesday night’s games ... The Leafs’ record heading into Wednesday’s 3,000th road game in franchise history is 1,036 wins, 1,532 losses, 390 ties and 41 overtime losses.