TORONTO - Itís hard to say what exactly general manager Brian Burke will glean from the Maple Leafs performance on Thursday night as far as his goaltending is concerned.
Burke was on the radio on Wednesday night after Jonas Gustavsson had coughed up a horrible goal to the New Jersey Devils in overtime on Tuesday night and commented that he didnít know if the Leafs had enough in net to take them to the playoffs and beyond.
Itís difficult to say whether heíll be any closer to an answer after the Leafs 2-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks at the Air Canada Centre on Thursday night.
While James Reimer, who got the start in net and didnít play badly, only allowed two goals, he wasnít tested a whole lot.
The Leafs held San Jose to 25 shots, with most of those coming to the outside.
Yet Reimer seemed to be fighting the puck a lot on those long shots. As well, he had no business going down to his knees on the first San Jose goal in the second period.
Patrick Marleau, who scored two on the night, put a short-side wrist shot over Reimerís shoulder. It was an innocent looking play and caught the Leafs goalie by surprise, but if Reimer had stood his ground, that puck doesnít go in.
The second goal, a tip-in during the power play was not Reimerís fault, as Marleau was left alone by the side of the net.
Still Reimer was good enough and will likely get the start again on Saturday when the Leafs play host to the Washington Capitals
One thing Burke will probably be happy with was the play of his defence, which managed to limit shots and keep San Joseís potent offence in check for most of the night.
Both captain Dion Phaneuf and Luke Schenn said prior to the game that the Leafs defence had to take some blame for Toronto allowing so many goals in their previous five games. Limiting shots is clearly something the coaching staff had talked about prior to the game and, for the most part, the Leafs responded.
HANDS OFF GARDINER
There is absolutely no way the Leafs should consider trading rookie defenceman Jake Gardiner ó not for anybody. The University of Wisconsin product just keeps getting better. He picked up his fourth goal of the season last night ó and there will definitely be an upside on that as Gardiner matures ó on a hard shot that beat Sharks goalie Antti Niemi to the glove side. Not only that, but Gardiner just looks so poised with the puck in his own end and he logged the most ice time of any Leaf at 26:50. That was three minutes more than any other player, including Phaneuf.
LITTLE ADVICE FOR PHIL
As much as you have to like Phil Kesselís goal-scoring ability, the speedy winger has to add another dimension to his repertoire. Kessel always breaks to his outside and fires a quick wrister. If he could add another move in there, he would undoubtedly eclipse the 40-goal mark. Still, Kesselís assist on Gardinerís goal helped him achieve a career high in points. Kessel now has 65 on the season, one more point than his previous best achieved last year.
It was Mikhail Grabovskiís 300th career game last night and fans didnít like it one bit when the feisty centre was called for goaltender interference at 12:29 of the second. The play brought out a round of boos from the ACC faithful when the refís hand popped up and the call elicited even louder boos when the replay was shown on the big screen. It appeared that Grabovski was pushed into Niemi. Interestingly enough, the short-handed situation brought the only good scoring chance from the Leafs during the second period when Joey Crabb came in on a stickless Sharks defenceman, made a move to his right and fired it just passed the far post from the lower part of the circle. Grabovski logged 20:12 of ice time and recorded two shots on goal.
Scrappy fourth-line Mike Brown helped inspired Gardinerís goal by getting into a fight with Jim Vandermeer early in the third period Ö Joe Thornton, who assisted on Marleauís first goal, has now scored five goals and added 11 assists over the past 12 games Ö The first penalty of the game was not taken until 10:27 of the second period, Schenn for interference Ö The Leafs have gone 1-6-1 over their past eight games, and have been outscored 30-15 Ö Reimer is 1-4-0 over his past five starts Ö Defenceman Mike Komisarek and forwards Colby Armstrong and Jay Rosehill were all healthy scratches for the Leafs ... Nice scoreboard tribute to the 1942 Leafs, the only team in any major North American sport to comeback from a 3-0 hole and win the championship Ö Was that boos emanating from the ACC crowd when Andrea Bargnani was shown on the big screen?