Leafs' backup goalies under fire
MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Beleaguered Maple Leaf goalies Ben Scrivens and Jonas Gustavsson spent early Wednesday afternoon facing a variety of bad-angle shots on the ice and probing media questions off of it.
Back-to-back subpar performances from the two Toronto backups have brought a sense of panic sweeping through Leafs Nation, even though the team still has a respectable 9-5-1 record.
Starter James Reimer continues to be missing in action with an alleged “whiplash” ailment, although it seems obvious to those observers who follow the team closely that the Leafs No. 1 goalie continues to deal with concussion issues.
While the Leafs refuse to officially confirm that Reimer’s marbles are scrambled, coach Ron Wilson left no doubt after Tuesday’s 5-1 loss to the Florida Panthers that the two backup goalies must work themselves out of their recent funks.
All the while, various reports on Twitter and the web linked names such as Marty Turco and Evgeni Nabokov to the Leafs as possible stop-gap measures. Nabokov is part of a three-headed goaltending monster with the New York Islanders along with Al Montoya and Rick DiPietro while Turco, a man without a team, is practising with the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
Scrivens was yanked from the game on Saturday, midway through the Leafs’ 7-0 loss to Boston. On Tuesday, it was Gustavsson’s turn to get the hook after allowing Florida’s third goal, one that had an odour to it.
After the Florida loss, it was interesting to see the different ways the two goalies put a spin on their performances.
Scrivens said he played poorly.
Gustavsson said he was the victim of bad bounces.
Talk about a Tale of Two Goalies.
Both Scrivens and Gustavsson spent significant chunks of time working with goalie coach Francois Allaire, who seemed to be concentrating on their techniques when facing bad angle shots. It was almost as if they were starting from scratch.
For Scrivens, who many believe will get the start in St. Louis on Thursday, his NHL debut in a 4-1 victory over Columbus last Thursday seems like a lifetime ago, especially after the Leafs subsequently absorbed back-to-back drubbings.
“It’s not like I’m super, super confident,” Scrivens said, admitting that “maybe I was a little too high after Columbus.
“My motto is, not too high, not too low.”
The Leafs held a team meeting prior to practice. At least an alleged one anyway. Dion Phaneuef admitted there was one. Minutes later, when asked about it, defenceman John Michael-Liles said there wasn’t one, although he changed his tune upon being informed that his captain had confirmed it.
It’s time the Leafs got their stories straight.
Just like their troubled goaltending issues.