Justin Pogge Loses Ground with Maple Leafs Fans After Blowout Loss

Tyler HillAnalyst IJanuary 28, 2009

Right off the bat I want to make clear that I’m not flipping on my previous feelings for Pogge. I’m not going to say he’s a terrible goalie because of last night’s game, so don’t jump down my throat for writing this.

As many of us may recall, some weeks ago Justin Pogge played in his first official NHL game for the Toronto Maple Leafs. In that game he collected his first win and received praise from the Leafs' large fanbase.

He won—if I remember correctly—6-2 against the usually subpar Atlanta Thrashers, and I thought at the time he had proved he was ready for the NHL.

After last night’s game, I still think he is ready. I will not fall into the majority of Leafs fans who will likely say, “He sucks! He got lucky in the first game.”

Despite last night’s 6-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild, I still believe that Pogge is a solid goaltender; every goalie has a bad game here and there.

True, he may have been lucky in the Atlanta game, but he still showed in that game, and even at times in last night’s game, that he can make big saves and hold his team in the game (Holding his team in doesn’t apply so much to the Minny game).

The one thing we, as fans, can’t forget is that Pogge is still young, and even younger when it comes to NHL experience. He has only two games under his belt and I’m sure by the time I wake up tomorrow and have published this, there will be enough stories on the major sports networks about how Pogge isn’t ready for the NHL and needs to be sent down to make your head spin.

Well, guess what? He isn’t ready, but keeping him in the minors isn’t going to help him any more. The only way for Pogge to improve is for Ron Wilson to give him more games at the NHL level.

You know what they say: Practice makes perfect. However, a 15-year-old doesn’t practice with 12-year-olds to get better—he plays with people his own age. You can play one level all your life and be the best player on the team, but if you move up a level you could be just an average Joe.

Pogge needs to move up now while he can still develop quickly. Ron Wilson is definitely smart enough to realize this himself—I just hope he can make up his mind about how many games he will give Pogge before the end of the season.

So fellow Leafs fans, give Pogge a break before you decide to drive him out of Toronto. He is good, he just needs time to adjust and get to know the team in front of him.

Give him some credit—he’s come into a team that isn’t really trying at this point and has been asked by fans and possibly staff members to give it up at this point.

Trying to make a name for yourself in that situation can be tough.