Scrivens should be Leafs' go-to-guy
Terry Koshan, QMI Agency
|With two road wins, the latest in St. Louis Thursday night, Ben Scrivens ought to be the goalie the Leafs ride until James Reimer is healthy. (QMI Agency file photo)
TORONTO - In the minutes after a win against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, it was hard to believe that Ron Wilson hadn’t decided who would be starting in goal for the Maple Leafs against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night.
After all, Ben Scrivens had just won another game for the Leafs, this time in a shootout versus Ken Hitchcock’s new team. That came a week after Scrivens was the main reason (along with the subpar goaltending of Steve Mason) the Leafs departed Columbus with a victory.
Between those wins, of course, were the Leafs’ worst games of the season in the form of losses against the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers. Scrivens was a part of those setbacks, but it could be argued that without him, the Leafs would be riding a four-game losing streak with the Senators arriving at the Air Canada Centre for another chapter of the Battle of Ontario.
There’s really no way that Wilson could seriously have considered starting Jonas Gustavsson on Saturday. If you want to win, you have to play your best goalie at the time.
And right now, it’s Scrivens, who should be a little more relaxed with his first home start an increasingly distant bad memory. Scrivens’ confidence grew to the point the other night that it was difficult to envision how the Blues were going to beat him in the shootout. Sure enough, Scrivens, who challenged each of Alex Steen, T.J. Oshie and Matt D’Agostini in the post-overtime skills competition, didn’t allow a goal.
The argument for starting Scrivens has nothing to do with building a statue for the kid. Wilson, whose sarcasm got the best of him on Thursday night, talked as though reporters and fans had made Scrivens out to be a Hall of Fame candidate after the initial win. Then, in Wilson’s line of thinking, Scrivens was knocked down a few pegs by the same people after the 7-0 loss against Boston.
The truth lies somewhere in the middle. But Wilson still thought it best to launch a few verbal shots.
One, wouldn’t you know, that led to a verbal misstep by the coach.
After Scrivens just made the plane ride home a lot more fun with 38 saves against the Blues, Wilson couldn’t help himself when he was asked if Scrivens had done enough to be the starter against the Senators.
Referring to a published report that day that involved an interview with the mother of James Reimer, Wilson said: “I will call the goalies’ moms and we will find out from there. It would be an easier way to figure it out.”
The mother of Gustavsson passed away 2 1/2 years ago. Wilson, for a second, forgot that.
Anyway, the up-and-down play of Scrivens, who wouldn’t be with the Leafs if not for the arduous recovery process from concussion-like symptoms that involves No. 1 goalie James Reimer, is back on an upswing. One aspect to like about Scrivens is that he’s a smart cookie who has picked up on what he needs to do better — some of his teammates refer to him as The Professor for his college days at Cornell — and there’s no lack of confidence. With Gustavsson, the belief in one’s self seems to come and go. It’s not the same with Scrivens, who appears to understand that being mentally strong is paramount to successful goaltending in the National Hockey League.
If they are not thinking so already, Leafs brass should be coming to the conclusion that Gustavsson, who can make a great save and allow a horrible goal on the same shift, has not done a lot to be the backup of the future, never mind the starter.
Scrivens’ time as the everyday starter might not be now. But with Reimer out, he has to be the guy that Wilson turns to on more than an every-other-game basis.
SCRIVENS BY NUMBERS
(A quick glance at Ben Scrivens’ four appearances in a Maple Leafs sweater:)
Date/ Team Result Shots Saves Save pctg.
Nov. 10 @ STL 3-2 W 40 38 .950
Nov. 8 vs FLA 5-1 L 7 5 .714
Nov. 5 vs BOS 7-0 L 14 9 .643
Nov. 3 @ CLB 4-1 W 39 38 .974