Toronto's Goaltending Follies
Belfour last dominant Leafs netminder
MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency
|Maple Leafs goaltender Jussi Rynnas reacts after giving up a goal to the Flyers at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ont., March 29, 2012. (ERNEST DOROSZUK/QMI Agency)
TORONTO - When Jeremy Roenick’s overtime goal in Game 6 allowed the Philadelphia Flyers to eliminate the Maple Leafs from the post-season in 2004, who could have guessed there would not be another NHL playoff game at the Air Canada Centre in the next eight years?
On that note, who would have predicted that Ed Belfour, the man Roenick beat for the series-clinching goal, would be the most-recent goalie to have played a post-season contest for the Leafs?
With Philadelphia in town Thursday night, Flyers media and team officials were in disbelief when it was pointed out that Belfour, since appearing in that May 4, 2004 contest, would eventually move on to the Florida Panthers, end up retiring, then be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame last November.
Over that same span, the Leafs have yet to qualify for the post-season.
Much like the Leafs’ humiliating 7-1 loss to the Flyers Thursday night.
We bring up Belfour’s name because the Leafs have yet to find a dominating No. 1 goaltender since the 2004 edition of Belfour.
In what can only be described as the latest chapter in the team’s production of Goaltending Follies, Jonas Gustavsson was clunked in the knee during warmup Thursday, causing Jussi Rynnas to make his first NHL start.
The numbers are ugly, sure — Rynnas was beaten seven times on the Flyers first 28 shots. But even more heinous was the fact that his teammates hung him out to dry over and over again.
The second Flyers goal was a prime example. Breaking in on a two-on-one, Daniel Briere fed a wide-open Brayden Schenn, who had a two-foot putt for the goal.
Belfour couldn’t have stopped that. Neither could Curtis Joseph. Not with leaky defence like that.
Give Rynnas credit. On yet another night the Leafs were booed off the ice, he came out to face the music afterward when the media entered the dressing room.
“There are no excuses,” Rynnas said. “Allowing seven goals in your first NHL start is not the way you want things to play out.
“You have to have a short memory and move on.”
Those things will be tough to do for a bitter fan base that is getting uglier with every loss.
According to Gustavsson, upon being clunked in the knee by a Clarke MacArthur wrist shot during the pre-game skate, “I could not move my leg for a while.” After going in to get checked, Gustavsson was on the bench but could not confirm if he would have been able to go back in if Rynnas had been injured ... Gustavsson said he hopes the knee will be better on Friday. If it keeps him out long term, however, you might not see him in a Leafs jersey again. He’s a free agent at the end of the season and is not expected to be back ... At one point, someone asked Leafs radio colour man Jim Ralph, an outstanding junior goalie with the Ottawa 67s, if he would strap on the pads again in case Rynnas got hurt. Ralph said no, his reasoning being that they would not let him put an ash tray on top of the net. Ralph was joking, of course.
Brayden Schenn is feasting on the Leafs this season, scoring a pair of goals in the first 11:01 of play. “I don’t know what it is but they just seem to go in versus Toronto,” he said ... With his parents and sisters on hand to watch the game, Brayden admitted the Leafs’ slide has been tough on big brother Luke. “Not just on him but the whole team and the whole city,” Brayden said.
We’ll give long-haired Flyers forward Scott Hartnell the benefit of the doubt for not dropping the gloves with an ornery Mike Brown in the second period. Hartnell’s ankle was still stinging from being nailed by a slapshot when Brown came calling, looking to chuck the knuckles. The two players ended up taking wild hacks at each other before the officials stepped in ... Classy move by Wayne Simmonds and the Flyers. After scoring Philly’s final goal, he kept his arms by his side and went straight to the bench. “In a 7-1 game, there is no reason to celebrate (a goal),” the Scarborough native said.