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Leafs goalie coach: “We’ve got two young kids in the net”

Feb 22, 2012, 3:49 PM EDT

James Reimer Getty Images

Less than 24 hours after Jonas Gustavsson’s shaky performance in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Devils, Leafs goaltending coach Francois Allaire met with reporters this morning to address arguably the biggest weakness on a Toronto team that’s dropping perilously close to out of the playoff picture.

Allaire’s message? Toronto’s goaltending duo is inexperienced, so…yeah, that’s the way it is.

“We’ve got two young kids in the net,” Allaire said, referring to Gustavsson, 27, and James Reimer, 23. “Not a lot of experience. Nobody has more than 90 games in the NHL. So that’s normal and we’re right in the middle of [the playoff race].

“We’ll see if we’re strong enough to get through.”

There, feel better, Leafs fans? The goalies are inexperienced. What are you gonna do? /shrugs shoulders.

If Toronto misses the playoffs again, expect general manager Brian Burke to face sharp criticism for rolling the dice with two unproven netminders.

True, Reimer — the uncontested starter out of training camp — suffered a concussion early in the season and that likely affected his performance after getting back into the lineup. However, the fact remains that Burke gambled on a kid with just 35 starts under his belt on a team that faces enormous pressure to make the playoffs.

As the Feb. 27 trade deadline approaches, it’ll be interesting to see if Burke pursues a veteran goalie like former Leaf Jean-Sebastien Giguere or Islanders starter Evgeni Nabokov, because if the Leafs don’t at least make the playoffs, the knives will be out in Toronto.

  1. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Feb 22, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    The knives will be out but thankfully Burke won’t care. He certainly won’t make any knee-jerk reactions based on what morons like Damien Cox say.

    This is the second youngest team, they have tons of potential but people need to be patient with them. It’s been 7 years since their last postseason so what’s the big deal if they miss again this year?

    Reimer’s had a tough time since his injury but I can still see him being a real good regular starter for this team. He’s definitely got the skills and the mental toughness. However, Gustavsson needs to return to the form he showed last month for them to make the playoffs this year. Last night was just brutal.

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