The Leafs continue to struggle into the new year, as they lost their starting goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguère to injury.
Giguère, who suffered a small muscle tear to his groin, is expected to be back next week. In his place, the Leafs have turned to backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson and have called up James Reimer from the AHL to help Gustavsson out. Winnipeg-born Reimer started his first NHL game on January 1 and earned a win and an almost-shutout over Ottawa with a score of 5-1.
Since then, he has lost in his second start against Boston 2-1, won against St. Louis 6-5 in the shootout, and won against Atlanta in a stunning 9-3 victory.
Their 9-3 victory—five of the goals came on the powerplay—boosted the team’s powerplay statistics, which went from 20th in the league to 11th. The line of Grabovski, Kulemin, and Macarthur totalled six goals, two for each player and a combined total of 10 points for their efforts Friday night. Kaberle earned four assists.
Meanwhile, the Leafs sent Kadri back to the minors, a good idea because he was scratched from the Leafs’ lineup for three games, and had to serve a two-game suspension with his AHL team. He returned to the Marlies’ lineup and scored two goals and one assist in his last three games.
While Kadri was with the Leafs for 17 games, he was unable to score his first NHL goal, but he was able to earn himself six points through assists. He played on multiple lines including the top line with Phil Kessel, and was unable to really cement himself a spot on the team. He still has work to do to improve his game, and as a young, inexperienced player, being sent down to the minors will be a good thing for his confidence and he will be able to gain the experience he needs to really succeed as a top-six forward in the NHL.
The Leafs have called up Joey Crabb in Kadri’s place and Darryl Boyce was called up to replace Mikhail Grabovski when his girlfriend went into labour, and the Leafs have decided to keep him on the roster for the time being. In Crabb’s eight games so far with the Leafs, he has registered four assists. Boyce has one goal and two assists in five games with the Leafs.
The Leafs are 4-6-0 in their last 10 games and 16-20-4 on the season, and are ranked last in their division and 27th in the league. This week they play the L.A. Kings, San Jose Sharks, Phoenix Coyotes, and Calgary Flames. All four teams have more points than the Leafs. This is a true test for the Leafs, who need to quickly find ways to win. Both Burke and Wilson are coming under fire, and the easiest fix is by winning. The Leafs have shown signs of improvement but need to pick up victories sooner than later. But only time will tell if that will happen.