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Follow Me on TwitterSteve Minakakis is a Toronto Maple Leafs correspondent for OurHometown.ca. Steve's passion for hockey, especially the Maple Leafs, brings the hockey world alive with his unique style of writing. He is the creator and editor of TMLhockey.com. If you have any questions or wish to contact Steve, you can email him at sminakakis@ourhometown.ca
Leafs win 3-1 over Devils... Wait, no they lose 4-3 courtesy of Jonas Gustavsson
Steve Minakakis
OurHometown.ca

Leafs win 3-1 over Devils... Wait, no they lose 4-3 courtesy of Jonas Gustavsson
The Maple Leafs played 60 hard minutes in Toronto tonight. It has been a while since I have seen the team put in a complete effort like this. They are on the wrong side of a losing skid and barely in a playoff spot, mostly due to the Washington Capitals struggling just as much as Toronto.
PHOTO CREDIT - MapleLeafs.com

North York - February 22, 2012 - The Maple Leafs played 60 hard minutes in Toronto tonight. It has been a while since I have seen the team put in a complete effort like this. They are on the wrong side of a losing skid and barely in a playoff spot, mostly due to the Washington Capitals struggling just as much as Toronto.

The Leafs started the game with a ton of effort and speed, but it was the New Jersey Devils that scored first as the Leafs defenders left Petr Sykora wide open to tap in his own rebound. From there, Jonas Gustavsson would take over. He let in two bad goals through the five hole that seemed to zap the Leafs of any momentum as they were pushing back to take the lead in the hockey game. Down 3-2 in the final minute of the third period, Phil Kessel would slide the puck past Brodeur and tie the game, but in overtime the Monster struck again. Mark Fayne's point shot was going wide, but Gustavsson stretched to stop it anyway. The puck would hit Gustavsson under his left arm and bounce into the net. The Leafs would lose 4-3 in overtime.

This is the final straw for the goaltenders in Toronto. Enough is enough and something needs to give. I can't imagine Gustavsson will get another start for a while. To say the Toronto's playoff hopes are in jeopardy is an understatement. They need a goalie that can make the simple saves, and sometimes make a big save. As it stands right now, neither of the goalies on their active roster, James Reimer or Jonas Gustavsson, have proven to be a number one goaltender. The starting role has bounced back and forth for a while now. You would think that one of the goalies would take the opportunity and run with it, but that hasn't happened.

So, the pressure is on Leafs GM Brian Burke. With the trade deadline less than a week away, Burke needs to decide once and for all what to do with his goaltending. Is there anything better out there than what Toronto currently has? You would have to assume so, because it is looking ugly for the Leafs night after night.

Rick Nash has been on the Leafs radar for a while, but the price is apparently too high for the Leafs, who are unwilling to give up Jake Gardiner, amongst others. With the added pressure on Burke to get the Leafs into the playoffs, he might be tempted to pull the trigger on a deal. There are some suggestions that the Leafs should try to get Steve Mason as well as Nash out of Columbus, but such a deal would have a pretty large price tag attached to it.

Next on the chopping block is Leafs coach Ron Wilson. With six loses in the Leafs last seven games, many are pointing the finger at the coach. Wilson was given a contract extension in December that is expected to have him coaching the Leafs until at least the summer of 2013, but with the recent string of loses, he may not be Toronto's coach for much longer.

Expect a ton of trade rumours involving the Leafs, from now until the trade deadline next week. Also, expect James Reimer to start in net for the Leafs on Thursday night, when they host the San Jose Sharks.


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