Monsters and Robots: The Goaltending Situation in Toronto

Through his first five games and four starts of this season, Jonas Gustavsson has ac*umulated three wins and sports unimpressive numbers at 3.85GAA and a .886 save%. His first 2 outings were shaky and The Monster seemed nervously out of place. With Reimer’s ever extending absence from the Leafs net, it’s anyone’s guess how long Toronto will have to lean on its backup tender. Despite his slow star, however, Gus seems to have settled down in net and has been making spectacular saves at key times to keep the Leafs in games. Over his last two starts, Jonas is 2-0-0, with a 2.50GAA and an impressive .925 save%.

Could the Maple Leafs have an unexpected challenge to their number one spot between the irons?

The short answer is no. Reimer’s numbers have been great: 4-0-1 in games he finished, with a 2.58GAA .912 save%, including one shutout. What’s perhaps more important than Reimer’s stats is his penchant to make key saves at critical moments in game. But when can we expect him back, and will he be at 100%?

We could blame it, as Wilson has, on Jonas’ language barrier, but no one can ignore Gustavsson’s comment referring to Reimer’s injury as a concussion. We heard it, we can’t unhear it. Originally slated to miss a single game, Reimer has now missed four outings. Concussions can result in anything from being ignored, to season ending, and with the Leaf’s dependence on stability in goal to propel them to the W column, Reimer’s injury, whatever it may actually be, is a huge problem. Enter The Monster.

Gus’s improving play – most notably how much more comfortable he looks in net – could cause some controversy. The Leafs were somewhat lucky to get away with any points in their first two games without Reimer (read: the backup sucked), but apparently a little confidence goes a long way. Before the arrival and rise of Reimer last season, the blue and white seemed to give up on games they could have won, simply because of bad goaltending – confidence is a heck of a thing. That all changed, dramatically, when saviour James took his first trip to T dot.

If Optimus Reim is forced to sit out more games, Gus will only be depended upon in a greater capacity. If his play –along with that of the rest of the Leafs – keeps up, and the wins keep on coming, The Monster could make a case for more time between the pipes. I’m sure the whole of leafs nation is holding their breath on Reimer returning, but for the time being, the net seems secure with Jonas Gustavsson.

Caveats:

1) Ron Wilson is quoted claiming that Phaneuf is, by far, the best D in the league, presently. The organization says his scoring chances are off the charts for a defender, and his plus minus and points tell us a lot. Do you think this title is deserved? Is he really the best at his position in the league right now? If not, who is?

2) You don’t have to tell Leafs fans – or anyone else right now – how hot Kessel has been. Leading the league in points (by a 3pt margin) and goals (one more than Neal), Kessel looks comfortable with his linemates – particularly Connoly against the Penguins – and is on pace for a career year. What do you project his point totals will be, come season’s end?

3) If his play continues, how many games should Gustuvsson get this season (providing Reimer hypothetically comes back within a week or so)? Should he only play backup time, 15-25 games? Or maybe a slightly heavier work load, such as 20-35? Or should they split the work load and create some fierce competition, with 30-40+ games going to The Monster?
Thoughts?


-JoelLeafs