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I hate you, Toronto, ON • Canada • 27 Years Old • Male
As I was carefully selecting the sharpest and jaggiest stones for the public sacrifice of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Vesa Toskala, I thought of something.

Pre-season.

Yup, that’s right. It was just pre-season. The reaction the 32-year-old has garnered throughout Leaf Nation might suggest otherwise, but yes, these games were basically meaningless—except for a select few.

So drop your barbaric weapons, take a Valium and give the once-praised Toskala the benefit of the doubt—for now. I’m aware that Jonas Gustavsson—who is clearly the reincarnation of Jesus Christ— and Joey Macdonald have both proven to be more reliable in their respective stints, but this job has been Toskala’s to lose since training camp debuted. And head coach Ron Wilson wasn’t about to hand the starting job to one of the two unproven goaltenders over a few pre-season games.

Let’s take a few things into consideration here—and this is NOT to defend Toskala’s horrid display of goaltending last night. For one, he is coming off two major surgeries to the hip and groin area. He played all of last season wounded, and hasn’t played to his abilities in an extended period of time. And with the acquistion of new goalie coach Francois Allaire this off-season, Toskala is now learning a new system to which he is not—obviously—accustomed to yet.

So give the guy a break.

I’m not saying to generate a bunch of excuses for the Finnish netminder, but atleast give him the benefit of the doubt. Despite his woeful save percentage, Leafs fans should hold judgment on whether or not he’s capable of maintaining his role as the starting goaltender until he atleast plays ONE regular season game.

While many have been venting their frustrations with Toskala on internet forums, no one is as furious as the man himself. When Wilson pulled him off the ice in the dying minutes to deploy an extra attacker, Toskala banged the boards with his goalie stick in anger, showing signs of emotion Leafs fans have rarely seen from the soft-spoken and mellow goaltender. After the game, Toskala had few things to say about his performance, but he did say that “when the season opens on Thursday, things are going to very different.”

Should he falter against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, then it is likely Gustavsson will get the nod against the Washington Capitals on the first night of Hockey Night in Canada.

For now, I’ll be wearing my Toskala jersey with pride and will support him heading into Thursday night’s tilt. If he fails, then I’ve already arranged a pack of lions to maul him in the Air Canada Centre after the game, Roman-style.

[email]ro[email protected][/email]
Filed Under:   Leafs  
September 28, 2009 6:48 PM ET | Delete
that is exactly it.. preseason.. and Toskala has been one of the best goalies you guys have had in a long time.. I hope he does good
September 28, 2009 7:09 PM ET | Delete
you mean hes better than the 2 years of raycroft... belfour, cujo and potvin arent shabby goalies
September 28, 2009 7:33 PM ET | Delete
Granted, it is preseason and I like to think that maybe he was just trying some little tweaks here and there based on Francois Allaire's recommendations and maybe he just is, in fact, getting comfortable, but yes, I am a bit nervous. Good to see some emotion from him though!
September 28, 2009 7:37 PM ET | Delete
September 28, 2009 9:03 PM ET | Delete
belfour and Cujo were done by the time they got there... Potvin was one of my most favorite goalies .Raycroft was.. well Raycroft..
September 28, 2009 10:14 PM ET | Delete
He never takes responsibility he has an injury but didn't say anything he has a bad defense the team had a bad game but he hasn't performed well for over 18 months when do you stop accepting his excuses and realize he is not a starter.
JDJ
September 28, 2009 10:22 PM ET | Delete
I would suggest that the improved defense on the Leafs this year should make things a lot easier for Toskala overall... it is almost like Burke and Wilson bulked up the team D up for that sole reason. For Toskala's sake, I hope he is not being judged only on wins or losses, but overall play.
September 29, 2009 12:35 AM ET | Delete
JDJ, I think Toskala is being judged on having an .860 save percentage and 4.07 goals against in the pre-season. That's totally unacceptable for any goaltender, let alone a starting netminder. It'd be different if he played only one game in the pre-season, but he played four and parts of others.
September 29, 2009 1:45 AM ET | Delete
Toskala is useless He is going to end up being in a marlie uniform at some point this season
September 29, 2009 3:40 AM ET | Delete
I don't get how Toskala is vilified by Leafs fans, and Emery considered a saviour by Phily fans? Toskala has never had a losing season, and apart from last year when he played injured on a defensively atrocious team, he's put up good numbers each season. He's also been good in the dressing room. Emery was a cancer and had worse numbers on a much better team the last time he played in the NHL.
September 29, 2009 9:31 AM ET | Delete
September 29, 2009 4:19 PM ET | Delete
first who said ANYTHING about Emery there elbowing? or you just trying to start a war??? and you want to talk about numbers? so far this preseason... EMERY 1.76 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage. and Emery the year he was on the Sens and didn't do good.. he was the least of the problems because even after he was benched they blew.. he had a 3.13 GAA and a .890SV% that year ..Toskala last year. a 3.26GAA
September 29, 2009 4:20 PM ET | Delete
and a .891SV%
September 30, 2009 10:38 AM ET | Delete
So basically you are pointing out that in their worst years Emery and Toskala's numbers are almost identical??? But Emery also hits people on freeways in his hummer, doesn't show up for practise, is a cancer in the room. Not sure you want to start a war here as there's not much ground to stand on, let's face they are both question marks and pre-season haha...it's pre-season!
September 30, 2009 12:49 PM ET | Delete
Toskala sucks he's overpaid for a lifetime maple Leaf save percentage below .900 need I say more?Oh did I mention he blames everyone and everything else his groin, hip, defense, the team in front of him. Whereas The Monster did a save on 2 on 0 he made the save despite the team in front of him isn't that supposed to be the reason why a goalie becomes a starting goalie in the NHL?
September 30, 2009 7:50 PM ET | Delete
hey I didn't bring emery into this..it was some dumbass that brought emery up.. I was defending Toskala..
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