Leafs trust Scrivens ... for now

Ben Scrivens will be in goal when the Leafs face the Nashville Predators Thursday night in...

Ben Scrivens will be in goal when the Leafs face the Nashville Predators Thursday night in Tennessee. (MIKE PEAKE/Toronto Sun)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:40 AM ET

TORONTO - His bosses are kicking tires on veteran goaltenders, but Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson won’t be upset if Brian Burke and David Nonis come up flat.

For the time being.

After practice on Wednesday, right around the time he confirmed rookie Ben Scrivens would make his fourth consecutive start on Thursday night when the Leafs visit the Nashville Predators, Wilson indicated he doesn’t think the Leafs necessarily need to add experience in goal.

“Not right now,” Wilson said. “A lot of people are going to talk, and management is looking into improving our team in all areas. That’s not for me to say.”

Burke has said in the past 36 hours that the Leafs don’t have an interest in free agent Marty Turco. But names that undoubtedly have popped up on Burke’s radar include former Leaf Scott Clemmensen of the Florida Panthers, Evgeni Nabokov of the New York Islanders and Antero Niittymaki of the San Jose Sharks, who is recovering from hip surgery in September.

The Leafs are on the lookout because they are not sure when James Reimer will return to the lineup from concussion-like symptoms. Reimer’s headaches have not completely disappeared, and there is consternation in the organization. After all, Saturday will mark four weeks since Reimer was bowled over by the Montreal Canadiens’ Brian Gionta. The Leafs won that game, but since have gone 5-5-1 and have posted a single victory in their past five games.

The Leafs also don’t have a ton of confidence in the notion that Jonas Gustavsson will be more than a backup, if even that. At this point, Scrivens, coming up on his sixth start in seven games, has passed him on the depth chart.

It’s safe to assume a trade would have been consummated by now if not for the play of Scrivens. He has been shaky at times on home ice, but for the most part, has been a stabilizer. Scrivens is 2-2-1 with a 2.92 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage, with both of his wins coming away from the Air Canada Centre.

After Scrivens allowed two goals in the first six minutes against the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday night, Wilson acknowledged that “I had my hand on the button, but I did not have to push it.”

Scrivens recovered and shone as the Leafs fought their way back into the game, but Toronto wound up losing 3-2 in a shootout.

“With goaltending, you have skill and you need mental skills to go along with physical skills,” Wilson said. “He showed resilience so that’s why he gets another start.

“Ben gives us the best chance to win, and that’s why he is playing.”

In the bigger picture, some have wondered why the Leafs didn’t acquire, either through trade or free agency, a veteran netminder during the summer. Burke and his staff stuck to their beliefs, thinking that Reimer would be the answer over the long haul. Reimer demonstrated he could be that guy, going 4-0-1 as he began to build back to being the goalie who won 20 games as a rookie last season.

No one saw his injury on the horizon, of course, but the Leafs were taking a chance with Gustavsson as the safety net.

Now, the Leafs, whose standing in the Eastern Conference has been eroding, could bottom out if Scrivens gets hurt.

“It’s a good feeling,” Scrivens said of the club’s confidence in him. “I appreciate the support everyone in this room and organization has given me, and it has definitely helped to ease my way into it. There have been a couple of bumps, but those are learning experiences.”

Scrivens reiterated that he is willing to let speculation of a trade for a goalie slide off his back.

“The only people I hear that talk from are you guys,” Scrivens said, “and no offence, but I don’t take it too seriously.”

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