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Berger: Leafs are rotting in goal

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10-18-2009, 08:03 AM
  #1
canada83
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Berger: Leafs are rotting in goal

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TORONTO (Oct. 18) – Given how frightfully the Maple Leafs are performing in the first month of the season, it would seem almost absurd to focus the electron microscope – as Ron Wilson puts it – on a single player, or position. The entire team has bought into this decay and the wide turn toward respectability won’t be made unless the overwhelming majority of those wearing blue and white find vast improvement in their game.

That said, there is an undeniable and debilitating factor tearing at this club, and it has no chance of recovering without dramatic reversal. The Leafs, quite simply, haven’t gotten a big, important save from one of their goalies in the first seven games. Well, maybe one… Vesa Toskala made a difficult pad stop in the waning moments of regulation against Montreal, lengthening the season opener to extra time. Otherwise, it’s been an absolute horror show between the pipes for the Maple Leafs, and there isn’t a team at any level of hockey that can overcome disability at that key position.

In blog after blog this past summer, I insisted that all of Brian Burke’s trades and free agent signings would be offset by a continuation of futility in goal. Toskala appeared to provide some genuine encouragement for Leaf fans after undergoing a course of off-season surgery, but his biggest problem could be north of the shoulders. Joey MacDonald is a friendly, confident chap that held the No. 1 role with the National Hockey League’s worst team last season on Long Island. If he sticks around long enough with the Blue & White, another 30th-place finish isn’t out of the question. As such, it may well be that the Leafs’ 2009-10 fortunes are squarely on the shoulders of a virtual unknown to the NHL

Rookie Jonas Gustavsson – aggressively lured from his native Sweden over the summer – appears to be the club’s only hope right now.

The Monster, as he is known, has been rather sickly in the early going. A scary bout of arterial fibrillation in the first week of training camp led to a cardiac procedure that shelved him for 10 days. He then replaced a staggering Toskala after one period of the Leafs’ first road game in Washington, only to aggravate a groin-muscle pull. We haven’t seen him since. In his ever-so-brief appearances, however, Gustavsson showed the poise and maneuverability that made him the top-ranked goalie in Europe last year, and that lifted Burke to elite status on SAS Scandinavian Airlines over the summer. Given the psycho-trauma that Toskala has encountered, and MacDonald’s rank as a desperation stop-gap, The Monster would appear to be all that’s left between an upswing for the Maple Leafs and a terrible humiliation at the NHL Draft next June.

As it stands, Gustavsson will not be fit for action until part-way through the Leafs’ up-coming road trip to Vancouver, Anaheim, Dallas, Buffalo and Montreal. MacDonald will almost certainly face the Canucks next Saturday, with Gustavsson possibly being ready for the club’s visit to Disneyland two days later.

Another option would be for Burke to put in a call to old pal Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who has twice appeared for Anaheim this season, but could ultimately find himself rotting on the end of the Ducks’ bench in favor of Jonas Hiller. To accommodate the bulk of Giguere’s $6-million salary – assuming he can work out a deal with Bob Murray, his former assistant – Burke would first have to waive Toskala and, perhaps, underachieving veteran Jason Blake. Both contracts, should they survive the waiver process, could then be transferred to the Marlies of the American Hockey League – paid in full by the Maple Leafs, but no longer a burden to the club’s cap arrangement. After all, such a move – though cold-hearted – was repeatedly threatened by Burke during the summer months.

Whatever direction he chooses, the Leafs’ GM has to know there is zero chance for his club to make in-roads with its current lot between the pipes. There may be few legitimate reasons for highly-paid athletes to lapse into despair before 19,000 on-lookers, but crappy goaltending in hockey is certainly among them. Henrik Lundqvist beat the Leafs and their fans into emotional submission on Saturday night, as others have before him. It was clear in every tentative move the Toronto players made against the Rangers, and it induced vitriolic chagrin among the normally-sedate denizens of the Air Canada Centre.

This doesn't completely absolve the position players. Forwards have rarely been within radar distance of opposition nets so far this season. And, the Leafs' best defenseman has been Mike Van Ryn.

But, the overall trend will continue, unabated, until Burke finds himself a man that can effectively move between puck and mesh.

The gangly Monster would seem to be his only salvation.
Latest excerpt for Berger. He sites a medical condition that does not exist - arterial fibrillation - not in any of my textbooks anyway. (he likely means atrial fibrillation) Also, makes a tasteless reference to a Leaf player who is likely having career ending surgery in the near future. Poor form Howard, poor form.

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Old
10-18-2009, 08:09 AM
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sgupca
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Most of that is true, i mean look at last night, IMO we out played the Rangers but Henrik won them the game and Joey Mac lost it for us.

Last night was a perfect example of how goalies can win and lose games for you.

Burke needs to be on the phone trying to pick up a quaity (doesn't even have to be a star -- just a solid goalie) before this gets too bad.

Ty Conklin
Josh Harding - my first choice
Chris Mason
Giggy
Biron - its not like the Isles don't have 3 goalies
Halak

Something needs to be done here, and if we want to win more than 20 games this year we need to address our goalie needs sooner than later.

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10-18-2009, 08:15 AM
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Quote:
He then replaced a staggering Toskala after one period of the Leafs’ first road game in Washington, only to aggravate a groin-muscle pull. We haven’t seen him since.
ORLY?



All seriousness though, he's stating the obvious.

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10-18-2009, 11:36 AM
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Newfie John
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Leafs Are Rotting In Goal - Monster Doubtful Against Canucks

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Given how frightfully the Maple Leafs are performing in the first month of the season, it would seem almost absurd to focus the electron microscope – as Ron Wilson puts it – on a single player, or position. The entire team has bought into this decay and the wide turn toward respectability won’t be made unless the overwhelming majority of those wearing blue and white find vast improvement in their game.

That said, there is an undeniable and debilitating factor tearing at this club, and it has no chance of recovering without dramatic reversal. The Leafs, quite simply, haven’t gotten a big, important save from one of their goalies in the first seven games. Well, maybe one… Vesa Toskala made a difficult pad stop in the waning moments of regulation against Montreal, lengthening the season opener to extra time. Otherwise, it’s been an absolute horror show between the pipes for the Maple Leafs, and there isn’t a team at any level of hockey that can overcome disability at that key position.

--

As it stands, Gustavsson will not be fit for action until part-way through the Leafs’ up-coming road trip to Vancouver, Anaheim, Dallas, Buffalo and Montreal. MacDonald will almost certainly face the Canucks next Saturday, with Gustavsson possibly being ready for the club’s visit to Disneyland two days later.
http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog/Howar...n-Goal/3/23734

The goaltending is the huge achilles heel. I'm happy they're not rushing back the Monster.

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10-18-2009, 11:43 AM
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MacDonald is starting? OMG....okay my tickets are officially for sale.

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10-18-2009, 06:06 PM
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Indeed, the injury was after the Ottawa game not the Washington game. Just another example of excellent journalism.

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10-18-2009, 06:14 PM
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Gustavsson and Harding would be completely fine with me.

I would be surprised if Burke doesn't at least inquire about somebody like Harding this week. MacDonald and Toskala have been absolutely brutal this season, and even if we go forward already with Gustavsson as the starter, are we even comfortable with Toskala or MacDonald as the backup? I am not really sure I am anymore..

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10-18-2009, 06:46 PM
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probably the first time I've ever agreed with Berger...but then, it's so painfully obvious, this fact



Last edited by BIG BLUE: 10-18-2009 at 07:30 PM.
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10-19-2009, 08:40 AM
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As a person who has played in net his whole hockey life, I always try to defend the goalies as much as I can. But in this case I cant. They have not been able to make the save when needed. If you look at that last ranger game as an example, Letting a goal in off a friggin wrap around...COME ON!!. Then letting the puck go right through you on a week shot from the point, inexusable. The team just needs a dam save once and a while.

On a positive I fully expect Guss to come in and calm the ship. Once players start seeing how good he is they will start to have confidence in him witch will allow them to start to take more chances offensivly. I fully believe he can make the save when needed. .

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10-19-2009, 08:47 AM
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apparently there were wild and oiler scouts at the game on saturday...maybe they are looking at someone for harding?

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10-19-2009, 09:20 AM
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Christ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by canada83 View Post
Indeed, the injury was after the Ottawa game not the Washington game. Just another example of excellent journalism.
Toronto journalism at its best!! Even when things are going horrid, they find ways to twist the facts to suit their agenda...

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10-19-2009, 09:38 AM
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The Brewmeister
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this is brilliant, if i could get a job by stating the obvious, i'd be loaded!

Berger is a joke journalist and I've been ignoring his articles for a reason

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10-19-2009, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Christ View Post
Toronto journalism at its best!! Even when things are going horrid, they find ways to twist the facts to suit their agenda...
It should start posting here, give some a run for their money.

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10-19-2009, 09:48 AM
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RyanMac
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I don't know what's less clever... Howard Berger or all the people on HFBoards bashing Howard Berger on a daily basis.

He's right. All your anger should be focused on MLSE.

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10-19-2009, 09:50 AM
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RyanMac
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Oh and I find it funny how people call BLOGGING mistakes shotty journalism. It's a blog people. You know? Bang it out in five minutes for the interwebs? It's not like it's a column in the Globe and Mail. The level of effort and vetting is MUCH lower for a freaking blog.

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10-19-2009, 10:19 AM
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Aside from the fact that Gustavsson hasn't played since the Ottawa game ( versus the Washington game ), the fact remains that the Leafs goaltending is a huge problem, and the guy targeted to improve the situation ( when he returns from injury ), lost the only regular season NHL game he started.

Gustavsson isn't a proven NHL goaltender ( yet ), and he is facing a lot of pressure to turn around a terrible Leaf start to the season. That's not to say that Gustavsson won't be good, but playing in Europe isn't the same as playing in the NHL. Just because a goalie is 'elite' across the pond, isn't a guarantee that he can play at the same high level night after night in the NHL (against the best goal-scorers in the world).

I think Burke would be wise to bring in a solid veteran like a Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Sharing the goaltending load with a seasoned vet, takes a lot of pressure of Gustavasson as he adapts to the NHL while playing for a pretty bad team.

Just my two cents.

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