The Maple Leafs have done a complete 180 degree turn from their usually post lockout performances and that is not a good thing Leafs Nation. The club has gone 4-6-2 since the all star game and an even worse 1-6-1 in their past 8 and as February 24/12 comes around the club looks like they will be sitting in a familiar spot post lockout..... out of a playoff spot.
The club is not scoring when they need to score, their PK has gotten better but the PP has been sliding and the most disturbing trend is the club after 61 games, still does not have a clear number one goalie. Ron Wilson has stated since James Reimer's concussion that he would go with the hot goalie, but Ron what do you do when you can't find one?
This club has only maintained a playoff spot in the last few weeks, because the teams behind them have been playing just as bad as the Buds but when was the last time a club got into the playoffs with a pair of goalies that their own teammates don't seem to trust? The reaction by Lupul after a weak goal allowed in OT against the Devils by Jonas Gustavsson says it all. That look alone caught on camera should have had Brian Burke calling every general manager in sports.
Ed Belfour in the 2003/04 season was the last real goaltender that could steal us games, the fact we are in 2012, speaks volumes to the clubs failure to address this problem. No goaltending equals no playoff berth......again. Reimer after suffering a concussion has not been the same goalie, he deserves another chance but that can wait until next season, as the Leafs need to make the playoffs now. Gustavsson who is a pending UFA has done nothing to warrant any form of contract offer from the Leafs.... I say adios to Vesa Gustavsson.
Brian Burke knows the club needs goaltending and finally addressed this issue today on a Toronto sports radio station, now the question is does Burke go short term solution or actually try to solidify this position once and for all. There are many names being bantered about as the deadline approaches....
Short Term Solutions:
Evgeni Nabokov (Islanders)- Nabokov is a pending UFA and would be a cheaper obtion, the veteran netminder has a .925 SVP and 2.24 GAA for a mediocre New York club. He has a past relationship with Leafs head coach Ron Wilson.
J.S. Giguere (Avalanche)- I'm not crazy about giving up something for Giguere when we let him walk in the off season but the veteran is signed for another season and if I remember correctly he was a calming influence on Reimer last season. Giguere's groin is acting up again, Buds need to proceed with caution.
Curtis Sanford (Blue Jackets)- Really? I am having a hard timing seeing how he would be an improvement from what we currently have, at 32 years old he has appeared in 137 NHL contests, Gustavsson has appeared in 95 and is 5 years younger...
Nikolai Khabibulin (Oilers)- The Bulin wall has lost a few steps since his Stanley Cup days but with just another year left on his contract, the former Stanley Cup champ has a tonne of post season experience.
Dwayne Roloson (Lightning)- Roloson is 42 years old, a pending UFA and may not having anything left in the tank but could a return to his home province give Roloson that extra boost for one more run?
Antero Niittymaki (Sharks)- Forget about it
Long Term Solutions:
Jonathan Bernier (Kings)- The 23 year old is behind Quick on the Kings depth chart and is itching to get an opportunity to show that he can be a number one in the NHL, the Kings want scoring.
Josh Harding (Wild)- Harding is a pending UFA and not only will be playing for a contract but after four seasons as Backstrom's understudy, he has something to prove, has not played in many games for the Wild but at 27 could be worth the risk. He does have an undisclosed injury at the moment, how serious could it be has not been determined.
Anders Lindback (Predators)- Lindback is in his second season as the Preds backup to Rinne, will he sit for seven years more, I think not. Lindback has come along way from his 7th round selection in 2008 but I'm not impressed with his numbers in Nashville.
Well Leafs Nation, there you have it.... a list of goalies that are rumoured to be available for the right price, which way should the Leafs go is anyone's guess I would go with a short term solution in Nabokov or Roloson with an outside chance of bringing Bernier on board but one thing is certain as the season tics down.....this ring a round the goalie needs to end or our season will sooner rather then later.
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