It looked like Wilson was going back to The Monster in goal Thursday night in St. Louis. But a gut feel evidently told him to run with Ben Scrivens—and we all saw the result.
Scrivens, so quickly thrown under the bus after a tough night against the Bruins, had wowed us just last Thursday with a standout game in Columbus against the struggling Blue Jackets. But after the Bruin encounter, and his mildly shaky third period work in a loss to the Panthers at home, Leafdom was abuzz about having to find a goalie—just about any goalie—given Gustavsson’s off and on struggles.
I still sense we are hitting the panic button a bit too soon. Young goalies need to play, need to develop, gain confidence—something which can leave them very quickly, especially in a market like this (which has eaten up an awful lot of pretty talented goalies in the 50 plus years I’ve been following the Leafs).
I’m not suggesting there haven’t been some bad goals and less than stellar outings this season since Reimer went down with an injury (and for that matter, throughout the three plus years of Wilson’s tenure here), but we are talking about goalies who, combined, don’t have a full season’s worth of NHL game experience under their belts.
In any event, before I sound like an apologist for Gustavsson, Wilson’s instincts certainly proved solid against the Blues. Scrivens seemed to thrive as he got more shots and by the third period, made some ten bell saves—including a great reaction glove against former Leaf Steen, who has been one of the better producers on a generally under-performing Blue teams this season.
I’ll take 37 saves on 39 shots, many of them tough ones, any night. I'll also take that shootout save on Steen, too.
Wilson knew this before the rest of us: if it’s Thursday night, on the road, start Ben.
A couple of game notes:
- I mentioned yesterday that sometimes, a seemingly meaningless goal is not meaningless at all. When Kessel scored against the Panthers Tuesday night, it had no impact in a game Florida was running away with. But a scorer likes to score and that Florida goal no doubt helped Phil’s confidence, not that it was waning. He scored again to put the Leafs up 2-0 against the Blues. We may see Phil on a roll now for a while. His “slump” was no slump at all, and certainly not as prolonged a dry spell as we have seen in his first two years in Toronto.
- As Ray Ferraro mentioned on the TSN broadcast, Lupul had a hard-working night and was very effective.
- Dupuis used his body at times and caught my eye. He’ll have to stand out a bit more when injured players return, to ensure his spot in the line-up every night.
- Brown was aggressive on the forecheck in the third, managing a big hit in the Blues end at one point.
- Am I alone in sensing that Lombardi is working through a tough time? After showing early jump in his return from a long-term injury, his game has flattened out somewhat. It’s a long season and he may be somebody that could use a break once in a while.
- Schenn’s minutes were up, a good sign.
- Bozak won a ton of draws, (that’s one of the things we first noticed about him when he joined the Leafs). Two assists should give him a shot of confidence that he can produce offensively. I still believe he can be an effective all-around player.
The Blues had a lot of the play in the last two periods, but for at least 48 hours, we can't complain that our goalies haven't stolen a game.
Bring on the Senators.