A Monstrous Decision In Net: Where Do The Leafs Go From Here?

Jon NeelyAnalyst IOctober 7, 2009

TORONTO - OCTOBER 6:  Jonas Gustavsson #50 of the Toronto Maple Leafs keeps his eyes on the play against the Ottawa Senators during their NHL game at the Air Canada Centre October 6, 2009 in Toronto, Ontario.(Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

With the third game of the season done, and lost, the Toronto Maple Leafs seem to have a rather large goalie controversy on their hands. At least the fans and media seem to think so.

Coach Ron Wilson, as always, is staying straight-faced and steady when bombarded with questions as to which goalie, Jonas Gustavsson or Vesa Toskala, he trusts more with the starting job.

He gave the start to Gustavsson, his first as an NHLer, against the rival Ottawa Senators, and the 24-year-old was sturdy between the pipes in a 2-1 loss. He got absolutely no help up front in a game that saw the Leafs' offense barely show up for one period.

The Swedish net minder got the start after VesaToskala let in seven goals in his first four periods of play this season. 

Toskala's dismal .800 save percentage and disgusting 4.94 goals against average had the fans screaming for a switch in net.

Well, the fans got what they wanted, and whether Wilson admits it or not, there has got to be some small part of him that is leaning towards handing the reigns to Gustavsson "The Monster" and letting him lead the troops.

So this leads us to the question: Where do the Leafs go from here?

Wilson won't tip his hand yet as to his plans on starting in net at home to Crosby and Co. on Saturday night, but you can bet whoever it is will stir up even more talk from everyone who is not a member of the team.

If Wilson hands the puck back to the Toskala, it could mean that he really was telling the truth when he told Toronto media Tuesday that all along he had planned to give the young goaltender some playing time early in the season, while sticking with Toskala as his number one guy overall.

Or, it could mean he's giving Toskala one last chance to win his job back, before giving up completely on the 32-year-old.

If Gustavsson finds himself in the crease Saturday night against the Penguins, it could serve as a message to Toskala, making him sweat it out on the bench for one more game. There he'll like hope he find his game, and soon.

It could also mean that Wilson has confidence in the rookie, and feels he has played his way into the starting role.

There is one thing for certain in all of this; nothing will be decided this week, or any time soon for that matter.

The funny thing about goalies is that you never really know who is going to show up in net on any given night, just ask the Canucks. Just when you think you've got it right, something is always bound to change, and thus is the struggle you can have when your team has two goalies fighting for the number one spot.

Or in this case, fighting not to lose it.

However this controversy ends, and don't expect that for a while, the Leaf players need to worry less about who is stopping pucks for them, and more about putting pucks in the other net.

Three loses in the first three games, and the blame for any of them can hardly be put on the shoulders of either Leaf 'tender.

Stay tuned for what happens next with this story, which has only begun. 

But even if the Leafs ever figure out who fits best in their net, the rest of the team needs to start clicking, or else the only thing monstrous in Toronto this year, will be the disappointment.