The biggest question that still remains for the Maple Leaf is who will start in goal for them on Saturday against Montreal. Head coach Randy Carlyle remains mum on who he is leaning towards. Judging by how to goalies have performed at training camp, there is a serious case to be made to start with Ben Scrivens.
While the thinking has been that James Reimer was the No. 1 goaltender on the depth chart, he hasn’t played any level of competitive hockey since the Leafs wrapped up the season in early April. Scrivens played all the way through June and helped the Marlies reach their first ever Calder Cup final, while playing in 22 games this season in the AHL.
During the six days of training camp Carlyle explained that he hadn’t been able to look at the goaltending too much, being occupied with sorting out his skaters. He was going to leave it with goaltending coach Rick St. Croix.
What we do know is Scrivens has looked better in both the scrimmages and the practice sessions…and it really hasn’t been close. Through the six days of camp there wasn’t one where you could say Reimer looked like the better goalie.
If you go based on who your No. 1 goalie was going into training camp, James Reimer should be your starter. If you go by who looks and has performed better as of late, Ben Scrivens should be your starter.
In pre-season games in camp prior to the start of the 2011-12 season, Ben Scrivens outperformed James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson. Scrivens ultimately got sent down, an easier decision for management to make given they could send him down without the risk of somebody plucking him off the waiver wire unlike the other two goalies, which were on one-way contracts.
Ultimately, one of these two will start in goal, but clearly the concern remains if this goaltending tandem can get the job done this season. Inexperience in goal last season didn’t serve the team well.
On Friday, Newly appointed Leafs general manager Dave Nonis discussed his goaltending situation and the constant Roberto Luongo rumours.
“Well I told them both and I talked to James (Reimer) again today because it’s a constant question for them and I know it’s a topic that people like to talk about. So I talked to James today and I’ll give the same answer as if he asked me which is, do I like our goaltending in terms of quality and are they capable? The answer is yes. Do we have a veteran presence and do we have experience? No. And that’s the concern that we have it’s not that we don’t think they could play."
"So we’re going to start the season with them and it’s up to them to play at an NHL caliber," Nonis said. "Our players have to play as hard as they can in front of them and if we can upgrade and get some more experience we will. But not at the expense of moving some young players that we think will be very important for this team moving forward.”
Sounds like Nonis is taking the patient approach. It’s all going to come down to how good the goaltending can actually be. But if, after a few games, goaltending becomes the prevailing issue, you have to wonder how much patience Nonis will have.