Maple Leafs Monster Jonas Gustavsson Thrust into Spotlight Duty

Louis PisanoAnalyst INovember 20, 2010

PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 13:  Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson #50 of the Toronto Maple Leafs is bathed in light during the U.S. National Anthem before a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on October 13, 2010 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

In the third period of the game Tuesday night at the ACC against the Nashville Predators, a huge come from behind win happened for the blue and white as J.S. Giguere pulled himself during a TV timeout and was replaced by Jonas Gustavsson.

Gustavsson finished the remaining 13:09 of the game, stopping all six shots he faced.

Later, Giguere was diagnosed with a slight groin pull that is projected to keep him out of the line up for at least a week.

Thursday night the Monster got his fifth start of the season while facing the inept, though talent-laden, New Jersey Devils.

He held a record of 1-3 in his first four starts and a .902 save percentage along with a 2.85 goals against average.

After shutting out the Devils in the first period, Gustavsson let one squeak in through the five hole in the second, but helped the Leafs carry a 2-1 lead into the second intermission.

He made a huge save against Jason Arnott just over four minutes into the third and then held fast the rest of the way.

With less than seven minutes left in the game, Kris Versteeg sealed the deal with a one timer on a great pass from Nazem Kadri.

This Maple Leafs team are a fragile bunch after sustaining such a roller-coaster ride of a season to this point and need as much stability as they can get from the all important position between the pipes.

Gustavsson, who’s been guided by Giguere and goal tending coach Francois Allaire, continues to adjust to the NHL and has improved steadily.

If Gustavsson can provide a few stellar performances, we could see him take over the number one role for an elongated time since coach Ron Wilson has seemed to stick with the hot hand.

In the win Tuesday at the end of the game, the elation of the team was obvious after having lost eight in a row.

But what struck a note was how this now youngest team in the league really seemed to like each other in a genuine fashion, which is a very good sign.

Their faces were that of children in a schoolyard and the youth in this team really shone through.

The team as a whole seems to play a more responsible defensive zone coverage when the young Swede is in net.

With all the criticism surrounding this growing team, some positives could go a long way and that could start with Gustavsson playing well in Giguere’s absence, as he has to this point.

Gustavsson will face young Montreal goalie Carey Price tonight, another player used to receiving a lot of flak, though he’s been playing some of the best hockey of his NHL career, with his "Movember Moustache."

Tonight could be a big boost to Toronto if they beat the first place divisional rival Montreal Canadiens.

Lets hope it’s a Monster Night for the buds.

Prediction: Very close tight checking, lots of hitting, low scoring game.

It goes to tied 2-2 into OT and Versteeg get the clinching SO goal.