But I couldn’t help but notice that two recent Leaf goaltenders, somewhat dismissed and forgotten, I sense, have come up big for their new clubs in recent days. Ben Scrivens, part of the big deal that brought Bernier east from the LA Kings, earned his first shutout of the season—and first as a member of the Kings—on Sunday night against the Panthers in Florida. He subsequently gave up a couple of goals in a relief performance against Tampa Bay after starter Jonathan Quick was pulled on Tuesday, but even so, Scrivens' early totals are not too bad: a .939 save percentage and a goal-against average of 1.22, albeit in very limited minutes.
I thought Scrivens was a real battler here in Toronto, and did nothing but distinguish himself as a competitor who, while never the 'number-one' guy in goal, was nonetheless a real team player—and someone who could play well, too.
That brings us to the much-maligned Jonas Gustavsson. Hardly a pillar of popularity here in Toronto, the former Leaf has struggled in Detroit as well since he signed there in the summer of 2012—mostly because of a series of nagging injuries that continued to plague him through the 2012-’13 NHL season. He did have a couple of nice outings a year ago, but he was essentiially an afterthought, it seemed, as last season ended.
The Wings have some young goalies in their system looking for their shot. Interestingly, however, with starter Jimmy Howard on the shelf temporarily because of injury, the Wings turned to Gustavsson again in return days. (He himself was returning from yet another injury.) Surprise, surprise (or perhaps not, for those who still see his abilities), the former Swedish Elite League star has turned in two top-of-the-line performances for Mike Babock and the Wings. So much so that he was named the game’s first star against both Columbus and the Bruins.
His numbers so far, for what it’s worth? A goals against average of 1.50 and a save percentage of .955.
Now, I hardly imagine those ‘stats’ will last for either of these former Leafs. But I highlight this today simply because we too often forget about former Leafs once they’re gone, and sometimes we are even unduly critical on their way out the door.
As flawed as the current Leafs may still be (though yes, they are winning) it is reasonable to suggest that this is a much better outfit than anything Gustavsson, for example, played behind in his challenging and health-impacted years in Toronto. To me, both Gustavsson and Scrivens wore the Leaf crest with pride and battled as best they could to overcome challenging circumstances along the way. They are no longer here, but I wish them both well.