The pundits will tell you that the Toronto Maple Leafs were not good enough to make the playoffs. They knew it all along and said as such. Some will say, ” I had them finishing somewhere between 9 and 12.” The truth is that the season has not gone to script and the Leafs could have – no should have made the playoffs. So why are they not making the playoffs? Because they chose to go with goalie James Reimer over the other guy, Jonas Gustavsson.
Not making the playoffs will fall on the coach, Ron Wilson, and General Manager, Brian Burke. The latter failed to address the weakness in goal and the former has played hot potato with the goalie tandem of James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson. If the Leafs were out of the playoff picture from the start then the blame would fall on Burke for not signing or trading for a legitimate number one goalie. However this is not the case. The Leafs, were in a good place just three weeks ago.
Three weeks later, the Leafs are out of the playoff picture and fading fast. The finger pointing has begun and the Leafs, even if Burke won’t admit, are on emergency mode. Sadly, the reason all this drama is taking place is because the brain trust that run the Leafs are pro James Reimer. They feel they have to be! They feel they have to continue to put Reimer out there even though they knew what was at risk- losing the season! They must have felt, and this is speculation, that the out come of not going to Reimer must have been far worse. Imagine tying your sails to a goalie who might leave as a free agent at the end of the season. Logic dictated going back to Reimer. After all, the January that Gustavsson had, made him a trade-able commodity. Problem is Reimer is not the same goalie that ended the season last year and started the season this year. By going away from Jonas Gustavsson at the beginning of February the Leafs not only sealed their fates but also killed the confidence of Gustavsson who quite honestly has never been given a fair shake by the Leafs. The proof is in his treatment this year and in the first two years. When ever Gustavsson has had a bad game, the next game Gustavsson would sit out. Even when he deserved another start such as earlier this season when he was in net to beat the NY Rangers he sat out the next game versus Columbus. A game he should have been rewarded with, a virtually guaranteed win. The opposite is true for Reimer. Until this year, when Reimer has had a bad game he would be given the next start. Even this week proved as much when Reimer lost to San Jose he was given the next start against Washington.
The Leafs could have rectified this if they had gone back to Gustafson after the loss to New Jersey. Instead they again went back to Reimer which resulted in back to back losses to San Jose and Washington. Gustavsson got a point against New Jersey while Reimer produced no points after losing to San Jose. So why start Reimer against Washington when Jonas Gustavsson has a better winning percentage than Reimer, has a .900 save percentage and a better goals against than Reimer. Why then is he not being given the same opportunity Reimer got last year? The opportunity to run with it! Answer that and you know why the Leafs are not making the playoffs and why its over and out!