Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

NHL: Jonas Gustavsson impressive but Maple Leafs lost


The thousands of Toronto Maple Leafs fans who travelled to Montreal to witness their team’s 2-0 loss to the Canadiens on Nov. 20th must have surely been disappointed in the score. However, there good be a slight light at the end of the tunnel as goaltender Jonas Gustavsson put on an excellent performance again and it’s quite possible he could be the number-one NHL goalie the team has been looking for.

Gustavsson has started the last two games because regular goalie J S Giguere suffered a groin injury against the Nashville Predators on Nov. 16th. The Leafs were down 3-0 in that game, but scored four second-period power play goals to take a 5-4 lead heading into the third period. However, Giguere took himself out of the game with several minutes to play after he was injured. Gutavsson came off the bench and shut out the predators the rest of the way by making six excellent saves to preserve the victory.

He then started two days later and made 29 saves on 30 shots in the Leafs 3-1 win over New Jersey and looked extremely confident. He continued his fine play against Montreal by stopping 37 of 39 shots. Gustavsson is taking advantage of his run of games and will attempt to add another win to his record on Nov. 22nd at home against the Dallas Stars.

The 26-year-old native of Danderyd, Sweden has now played eight games so far this season and has a record of two wins, four losses and an overtime loss. His save percentage of 91.9% is good for 13th best in the league and his goals-against-average of 2.48 is 17th best. However, his won-lost record leaves a lot to be desired because the Leafs simply don’t have the firepower to support him and Giguere.

This is Gustavsson’s second season in the NHL now and his rookie numbers of 16-15-9 with one shutout weren’t too bad. His goals against average of 2.87 and save percentage of 90.2 were pretty good for a rookie too. This means the next few games for Gustavsson are going to be crucial in his development as an NHL goalie. If he can play the way he has been in the next few games his confidence should rise, but if the Leafs lose them and he stands on his head, there’s bound to be some dejection in him somewhere.

In typical Leafs fashion, when they have a decent scoring team they have weak goaltending and when they have decent goaltending they have a weak scoring team. General manager Brian Burke needs to start earning his inflated pay cheque pretty quickly or his goaltenders are just going to see their fine performances wasted this season and depression could very well sink in.

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