Vesa Toskala: A Growing Concern

Dave McCarthyCorrespondent INovember 18, 2008

Heard on Episode 4.10 of AFITC

Through the first nineteen games of the season, the Toronto Maple Leafs have shown their fans for the first time since the lockout that there is much to be get excited about in terms of the future of this team.

The work ethic has been there most every night. Matt Stajan is having a career year. Mikhail Grabovski, Niklas Hagman, and Nikolai Kulemin have turned out to be an electrifying line capable of exhibiting some serious speed. Ron Wilson has founds ways to get the most out of his players.

And finally, Maple Leaf players are starting to overachieve—instead of perennially underachieving, as they have for so many years.

However, despite all of the positives seen early in the season, one facet of the game is beginning to show itself as a growing concern—goaltending.

Vesa Toskala has not been the Vesa Toskala of last year, and has been giving up far too many goals, which has conjured up memories of the inconsistent Andrew Raycroft. His goals-against average and save percentage are among the worst for starting goaltenders, and he has been unable to make big saves at key times for the most part this season.

In fact, some of the goals allowed have been just plain soft.

The Maple Leafs though at this point do not really have a viable option apart from Toskala. In the limited action we’ve seen Curtis Joesph play this season, he has not shown an ability to be a reliable goaltender for a four or five game stretch. On the farm, the Maple Leafs seem intent on seasoning Justin Pogge for another year in the AHL which means benching Toskala for two or three games to send a message likely is not possible if they are still interested in having an opportunity to win hockey games.

One thing is for sure though. If Toskala’s inconsistent play continues, the Maple Leafs will lose more games than they win regardless of who is between the pipes. But hey, all that is just rigmarole.