TORONTO - Jonas Gustavsson joked he won’t stray very far from Toronto during the NHL all-star break because his girlfriend is a nervous flyer.
But the Maple Leafs goaltender — No. 3 on the depth charting if we’re ranking — appears likely to take a walk to the Ricoh Coliseum next week.
The Swede does not embrace the idea of joining the AHL Marlies on a conditioning stint, for which his permission is required.
He sees himself a bona fide NHL goalie with 65 games under his belt — and seven wins in a row last March that tied a club rookie record.
But he said Wednesday at the final pre-break practice that he’d go along with the idea, in order to spare the Leafs the risk of putting him on waivers to join the Marlies.
“I don’t want to answer those questions when I don’t know how (conditioning trials) work,” Gustavsson said at the final pre-break practice at the MasterCard Centre.
“But I trust Brian Burke. He knows what is right for the organization. If they want me to do something, of course I will do it. But they haven’t asked me.”
Coach Ron Wilson said earlier in the week that he and GM Burke were open to anything that will restore The Monster’s confidence.
He has an .890 save percentage and just six wins in 21 decisions. But no final call on his status would be official until after the break.
By then, Gustavsson will have played just twice since the last week of December.
The Marlies play 13 games from this Saturday until the end of February and Gustavsson could be slotted in any time in that window — if he says yes. Burke confirms that conversation has not yet taken place.
For now, Gustavsson and rookie James Reimer are staying on the big-league roster.
Both were put through a battery of questions again on Wednesday, Gustavsson about his mental state, Reimer about getting more starts and perhaps battling for the No. 1 job with Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
Much will also depend on whether there is trade interest in Giguere up to the Feb. 28 deadline.
“It’s a unique situation,” Reimer said.
“But Jiggy and Gus, they’re great guys and great goaltenders. Right now, when they call one of us, we’re going to do our best and the rest is up to the coaches. It’s exciting. You’re not sure what’s going to happen.”
Reimer made 29 stops on Tuesday and will take a .933 save percentage into the weekend.
“I just know I’ve got a flight to freezing cold Winnipeg today,” said Reimer of getting the thumbs up to spend the break at home.
“I haven’t heard anything else. Maybe I’ll turn my cell phone off.”
Gustavsson has been good-natured about being psychoanalyzed every day, by his coaches, the media mob and call-in shows.
“I’m getting used to answering those questions every day, even though I haven’t played a lot,” he said with a smile.
“But it’s still the same game and I feel pretty good, I lost the last game 7-0 (in New York a week ago), which isn’t good, but I won the game before that. I let more goals in than I wanted, but you have to keep going and not worry too much.
“There’s a small difference every game, you could be the hero or the guy everybody blames.
“A goalie has to be balanced. You’re never as bad as your worst game and never a good as your best game. You don’t keep dragging that around a long time.
“I’m sure my next game, I will be comfortable and confident.”