Bad news for the Maple Leafs today once again surrounding starting goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Giguere is being sidelined yet again, this time indefinitely, with a nagging groin injury. Giguere suffered the injury last night in the Leafs hapless 5-2 loss to Calgary and for Toronto, this is becoming all too familiar territory.
This marks the third time this year that Giguere has had to miss time with a groin injury and, as you could guess, having healthy groin muscles is key for a goaltender. Just ask Kari Lehtonen.
For the Leafs, it becomes Jonas Gustavsson’s show once again as the starter while Giguere is out. James Reimer was recalled from the AHL today to be his backup, but it’ll be the “Monster” getting all the work. Gustavsson has been decent with a .901 save percentage and a 2.91 goals against average. He’s show flashes of brilliance when he’s played but, much like with everyone on Toronto this year, has had fits of glaring mediocrity. How Toronto soldiers on without Giguere will tell us about how much they care about this season. More efforts like the one in Calgary last night, and this frustrating season will just get worse.
(For a recap of tonight’s other game – Philadelphia ending Pittsburgh’s winning streak, but not Sidney Crosby’s points streak – click here.)
Tonight we had an Eastern Conference confrontation between the two best teams in the Atlantic Division (or conference/league, depending to ask) and a game that wouldn’t mean much except it’s between two Canadian teams.
Toronto 4, Edmonton 1
Both Kris Versteeg and Phil Kessel scored one goal and one assist in the game. Dion Phaneuf and Mikhail Grabovski also scored for the Toronto Maple Leafs, while Oilers rookie Taylor Hall scored for Edmonton.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 23 out of 24 shots in this game, while Nikolai Khabibulin couldn’t stop the Leafs (allowing four goals on 34 shots).
Interestingly enough, the Leafs are now one point (28) ahead of the Oilers (27) after 30 games. Toronto is tied for 10th in the East while Edmonton finds themselves last in the West again.
While the Leafs have been struggling most of this season, having to be without captain Dion Phaneuf for such a long stretch of time with a deep cut on his leg hasn’t made things any easier on the rest of the defense and the goaltending. The good news today for Toronto is that Phaneuf will join the Leafs on their brutal two-game road trip to Washington and Pittsburgh and begin practicing with the team.
It doesn’t appear likely that the Phaneuf will join the team for game action this week, but TSN does report that Phaneuf is on track to be able to play against his former team, Calgary, when they meet up on December 16th. Getting Phaneuf back into action will allow the Leafs to sit Brett Lebda once again as he’s been playing of late as well as send Keith Aulie back to the AHL.
Today’s good news on Phaneuf is balanced out with some bad news regarding starting goalie Jean-Sebastian Giguere. Giguere will miss tonight’s game against Washington with a tweaked groin. James Reimer was called up from the AHL to serve as Jonas Gustavsson’s backup for tonight at the least. Giguere has a 6-5-2 record this season with a .893 save percentage 2.82 goals against average.
The last we saw of Leafs goalie Jean-Sebastian Giguere last night came when he was forced to leave the game in the third period with an apparent groin injury. Today the Leafs confirmed that Giguere will miss the next 1-2 weeks with a groin strain.
What this means for the Leafs is that they’ll be relying almost exclusively upon Jonas Gustavsson in goal to get them through what amounts to be a tough couple of weeks with games coming up against the Devils, Canadiens, Stars, Sabres, Senators, and Lightning. Taking Gustavsson’s spot in the backup role will be James Reimer who was called up from the AHL today.
If you’re curious why the red-hot Jussi Rynnas wasn’t called up instead, it’s because the Leafs are banking on starting Gustavsson exclusively. There’s no point in taking Rynnas out of the AHL if he’s just going to ride the pine.
While Kris Versteeg did his job to get himself out of the dog house by scoring two goals and the Leafs to take a step away from the outhouse snapping an eight-game losing streak, it wasn’t all good news for Toronto tonight. During the early part of the third period with the Leafs leading Nashville 5-4, Leafs starting goalie Jean-Sebastian Giguere left the game with what appeared to be a groin injury. Jonas Gustavsson took over and maintained the Leafs lead and the win while under severe pressure by the desperate Predators.
Should Giguere have to miss any major amount of time, there is help waiting in the AHL right now. Jussi Rynnas is having a killer season for the Toronto Marlies. Through nine games, Rynnas has a .943 save percentage and a 1.83 goals against average. Amazingly, his record is just 3-3-2. At the very least, Rynnas is prepared to play goal for a team that has a hard time scoring goals. For now, we’ll wait and see what the result of Giguere’s injury is.