Less than 24 hours after Jonas Gustavsson’s shaky performance in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Devils, Leafs goaltending coach Francois Allaire met with reporters this morning to address arguably the biggest weakness on a Toronto team that’s dropping perilously close to out of the playoff picture.
Allaire’s message? Toronto’s goaltending duo is inexperienced, so…yeah, that’s the way it is.
“We’ve got two young kids in the net,” Allaire said, referring to Gustavsson, 27, and James Reimer, 23. “Not a lot of experience. Nobody has more than 90 games in the NHL. So that’s normal and we’re right in the middle of [the playoff race].
“We’ll see if we’re strong enough to get through.”
There, feel better, Leafs fans? The goalies are inexperienced. What are you gonna do? /shrugs shoulders.
If Toronto misses the playoffs again, expect general manager Brian Burke to face sharp criticism for rolling the dice with two unproven netminders.
True, Reimer — the uncontested starter out of training camp — suffered a concussion early in the season and that likely affected his performance after getting back into the lineup. However, the fact remains that Burke gambled on a kid with just 35 starts under his belt on a team that faces enormous pressure to make the playoffs.
As the Feb. 27 trade deadline approaches, it’ll be interesting to see if Burke pursues a veteran goalie like former Leaf Jean-Sebastien Giguere or Islanders starter Evgeni Nabokov, because if the Leafs don’t at least make the playoffs, the knives will be out in Toronto.
The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.
Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.
With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.
It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.
Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.
The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?
Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:
If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.
Sidney Crosby is known to get fiery, but even for his feisty standards, he was furious during the third period of Game 4.
An Alex Ovechkin slash caught Crosby on the hand, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins star shaking his mitt and pleading for a call.
After that, Crosby left to get his hand looked at … but not before flipping out and destroying his stick.
You can watch it happen in the GIF and the videos above.
Crosby was able to return not that long after that moment, although we can only speculate regarding how his overall game will be affected if his hand isn’t 100 percent.
Tensions seem to rise with every passing game in the playoffs, particularly in a series with bad blood like the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.
Kris Letang was suspended for his hit in Game 3, and some wonder if Evgeni Malkin should suffer a similar fate for his check on Daniel Winnik on Wednesday.
Winnik left the contest and has not yet returned during the third period.
Take a look at the hit in the video above and decide for yourself.
Fires devastated the Canadian city of Fort McMurray, and the St. Louis Blues are doing their part to help those who were affected.
Here’s what the team is doing to raise money during Game 4 against the Dallas Stars:
Proceeds raised through the team’s 50/50 raffle and the Blues for Kids silent auction will benefit families who have been misplaced by the fires.
Blues forward Scottie Upshall shared his thoughts with the Associated Press regarding several family members being among those evacuated from the area.
“It’s been a great city, a city that’s survived for many years through some tough times and for me, growing up there doesn’t seem too long ago,” Upshall said. “Places that probably aren’t standing anymore will be really, really tough to take. But as long as everyone’s OK, that’s the main thing.”
Other people from around the hockey world weighed in on the scary scene, including Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Phillips, who told the Ottawa Citizen that “it hurts a lot.”
People shared some scary sights from the evacuation.