Goaltender Ben Scrivens got the start on opening night and played really well against the Montreal Canadiens (21 saves on 22 shots plus a win in Montreal). Since then, James Reimer has been the go-to-guy in net.
But on Monday night, Reimer came up lame after making a save near the beginning of the second period against the Philadelphia Flyers. Cue Scrivens to take over.
There must have been a million thoughts running through the minds of Leafs fans at that point.
"Here we go again, just like the Brian Gionta situation last year (Gionta injured Reimer and he was never the same in 2011-2012)." Or, "Great, we're up 3-1, now we lose our goalie and I bet we lose the game, on home ice, again." Or even, "Well I guess (Maple Leafs General Manager) Dave Nonis will be talking to (Vancouver Canucks GM) Mike Gillis about Roberto Luongo tomorrow morning."
But wait, did Scrivens just make a crazy save to keep the Leafs up by two goals? Did Scrivens play almost two full periods and only allow a goal right at the end of the game to give the Leafs a win on home ice?
Yes, yes he did.
It was only the Leafs' second win at Air Canada Centre all year. Scrivens came into the game and did his job.
Two nights later in Carolina, however, Scrivens allowed three goals on 33 shots, all in the second period in about nine minutes of each other. But could you blame him for all of them? I seem to recall he was left hung out to dry on at least one if not two of those goals.
So what did Scrivens do on Saturday night against division and provincial rival Ottawa Senators? He channeled his inner Johnny Bower, made 34 saves, earned his first career shutout and gave the Leafs another win at ACC.
I know Scrivens has a long way to go to even be mentioned in the same sentence as Bower, but it was Maple Leafs alumni night and maybe it rubbed off on him a little.
(As a side note, the funniest moment of the night was when Bower and George Armstrong were introduced. Bower said to Armstrong "Oh how nice, I clap for you but you don't clap for me." I think these guys need to get their own version of that 24/7 show they do before the Winter Classic).
Scrivens looked good throughout the week and made 100 saves in 2:33:30 of total ice time. On a week where the Leafs very easily could have found a way to fall to three tough teams, Scrivens gave the Leafs a stable presence on the back end and allowed them to get the job done up front.
It looks like James Reimer will not be out for a long time, but it's good to know that Scrivens can be called upon to win the game. If Reimer returns to form and continues his strong season, the Maple Leafs will have a great tandem moving forward the rest of the season. It will be up to head coach Randy Carlyle to execute a plan to use them both in winnable situations.