'Fearful' Leafs host Sabres
Toronto turns to Marlies goalies
DAVE HILSON, QMI Agency
|With Jonas Gustavsson still injured from an incident during Thursday's warmup prior to facing the Flyers, Ben Scrivens (above) will be in the lineup for the Maple Leafs against the Sabres Saturday. (CRAIG ROBERTSON/QMI Agency file photo)
TORONTO - Fear Factor might be a fun TV show to watch, but it’s no fun when fear has an iron-clad grip on your hockey club.
Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said after his team’s morning skate on Saturday that “the fear factor around our group is very high right now.”
The Leafs will have to quickly overcome that fear if they want to put an end to a franchise-record 11-game home losing streak when they play host to the Buffalo Sabres at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night.
“When you play with fear, it doesn’t allow you to do the things that come naturally to you. The puck bounces off your stick, you are fearful of that. You put a stick on the opposition and you are fearful that the referee is going to call the penalty. There’s all those little games within the game, but you can’t play the game with total fear. At times we’ve displayed that we’re too apprehensive.”
The Leafs really shouldn’t be playing with any fear now that their season is a total wash and they have nothing else to lose. But their goaltending situation probably won’t help their confidence much.
Ben Scrivens was an emergency call-up from the Marlies after it was learned Jonas Gustavsson, who was injured during warmups for the Leafs game on Thursday night against the Philadelphia Flyers, still wasn’t ready to play. So it will be two Marlies ’keepers manning the net when Toronto (33-36-9) tries to put a dent in the playoff hopes of ninth-place Buffalo (38-30-10).
The Sabres lost 5-3 to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night to fall into the ninth spot in the East.
It is unclear whether Scrivens, who played in eight games for the Leafs in November, going 2-4-1 with a .904 save percentage and a 2.96 goals-against average, will start or if Jussi Rynnas will get the call after he started in net against the Flyers and was shelled 7-1.
It appears from the way the morning skate shaped up that Scrivens will be starting, but Carlyle always likes to keep his cards close to his chest when it comes to naming his starting goaltender so it can’t be said for sure.
“If I’m going tonight, I’m not sure, but if I am I’ll be ready,” said Scrivens who was in net for the Marlies on Friday night during a 5-4 overtime win in Rochester. “My focus last night was on beating Rochester. We had a gutsy overtime win and then I hopped in a car and came up here.”
Scrivens said he learned of the call-up on Friday night.
Defenceman Mike Komisarek will be back on the blue line for the Leafs after being a healthy scratch the past three games and Cody Franson could be the odd man out.
The Leafs have just three games remaining in their schedule after tonight’s game, with two being on the road. They wrap up their season in Montreal on April 7.