Why Ben Scrivens Should Start in Goal for Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Penguins

Jeff Langridge@@JeffLangridge1Correspondent IIIOctober 28, 2011

Even with Jonas Gustavsson earning his first complete win since January, he should not be the man in goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs when the Leafs face the Pittsburgh Penguins tomorrow night.

Ben Scrivens should get his first start of his NHL career. With James Reimer placed on injured reserve and not available until at least Sunday against Ottawa, Scrivens should be given a test before he is sent down when Reimer comes back. Putting him up against the Pittsburgh Penguins should give the Leafs a good look at his talents at the NHL level rather than having him face a weaker Ottawa team on Sunday.

Scrivens was a below-the-radar signing a season-and-a-half ago. Last season, he split time with the Reading Royals of the ECHL and the Toronto Marlies. In 13 games with the Royals, he had a 10-3 record with a .938 save percentage and a goals against average of 2.23. In his 33 games with the Marlies, he had a 13-12-5 record with a .924 save percentage and a GAA of 2.33.

Those totals were good enough to be the best of any goaltender who played for the Marlies last season, including Reimer.

Another reason that Scrivens needs to start tomorrow is that he could very well be brought back up later in the season. In my opinion, with Gustavsson in the final year of his contract and him set to become an unrestricted free agent, he is a good candidate to be traded between now and the trade deadline.

The biggest reason that Gustavsson gave when he decided to sign in Toronto was that he had a chance to compete to be the starter. With that chance apparently gone, if he gets to July 1 without a contract, I think he will be looking for another opportunity elsewhere to be a starter.

Scrivens, who is actually two years older than Reimer at 25, has led the Marlies to a pretty good start in the AHL and could bring that success to the Maple Leafs. If he does eventually become the Leafs' backup, it will give the Leafs a pretty good young tandem that can grow with the team.

Whether Scrivens gets the start tomorrow night remains to be seen, but in my opinion, there's no better way to see if a goaltender is ready than to put him up against a powerhouse team like the Penguins.

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